The American Value System and Critical Events that Led to It: Today we’re discussing, “What is the secret sauce that produces good results in a society, in a community? And what was it that really led up to the American system that became the greatest nation in the history of the world?” Bill Federer is joining us to talk about his new book, The Treacherous World of the 16th Century and How the Pilgrims Escaped It – the Prequel to America’s Freedom, which adds some great thoughts to this discussion! It’s time for some learning, history, and fun as we talk about the Pilgrims, Muhammad, what led to our value system, and much more!
Air Date: 08/21/2018
Guest: Bill Federer
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! And we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. Always looking at things from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
Today we’re really going to dive into that historical perspective. Bill Federer will be with us a little later in the program to talk about his new book. It’s called The Treacherous World of the 16th Century and How the Pilgrims Escaped It. It’s the prequel to America’s Freedom.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator.
Check us out at WallBuildersLive.com for some archives of the radio program. You can go back several months now actually looking at some of our Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs, are Good News Friday programs, some other interviews, lots of great information there. And then also go to WallBuilders.com. That’s our main website with a lot of great tools for you to equip and inspire your family and your friends. So, check that out at WallBuilders.com.
David, Tim, Bill will be with us a little bit later to talk about the new book. But we do this a lot at WallBuilders, really stepping back in history to say, “What is the secret sauce that produces good results in a society, in a community? And what was it that really led up to the American system that became the greatest nation in the history of the world?”
How Did They Get There?
Well, one of the things that’s really key in getting the right perspective is not just looking at what happened, but looking at what happened leading up to what happened. In other words, if you want to see the American Revolution, the American War for Independence, you can start looking to 1776, but you really ought to go back a century earlier.
You ought to go back and see what happened with the Governor Ambrose in Massachusetts when he tried to take the charter away from Massachusetts and Rhode Island and various colonies up there, how’d the colonists respond. You ought to see what happened with Pastor John Wise who led the people against him taking away their government. He was imprisoned for that. You ought to see the sermons that he preached and what happened with that.
In other words, to understand where we are at the time of the American Revolution you can’t start there. You have to see all the different things that came together. All the things that built the platform on which the American War for Independence was finally fought.
So, what we often do today is we look at the final result without asking, how’d they get there? We look at the pilgrims and say, “Man, did they transform the culture.” They came in with the concept of private property and paying the Indians for private property. They came at the concept of civil rights and we shouldn’t have slavery. And they came of the concept of education for every student. Yeah, where’d they get that? What was going on in the century, the two centuries, before that caused them to arrive at those radical positions that are so beneficial for all of us?
And that’s what Bill does so well. He is so good at seeing all of history from the 30,000 foot view where you don’t just look at the Pilgrims. As he said, this the prequel. This is what’s going on in the whole world that produced it. And then you start saying, “Wow, this is cool.”
Founding Fathers of the Founding Fathers
And by the way, I’ve got to point out that we, in this generation, conservatives particularly, we look back to the founding fathers and say, “Wow, the founding fathers were cool. Look what they gave us, the Constitution.” The founding fathers– the founding fathers looked back to the Pilgrims as their founding fathers. When they had orations about founding fathers they were looking back to 1620 and what the Pilgrims did. So, to even understand the Pilgrims you have to go back to those before that.
So, that’s what’s so cool about Bill and he has so many books out there. He has this piece that comes out on a regular basis called The American Minute. It looks back and says, “Hey, on this day, or this week, or whatever. Here’s the significant event that led to this.” It’s just good history that he has and it’s so much stuff that’s unknown today, but it’s really interesting and fascinating.
Bill Federer, our special guest today. Stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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Welcome back for being with us here on WallBuilders Live. Bill Federer is with us. Good to have you, sir, thanks for coming on.
Hey, Rick, great to be with you.
Reaching Back Into History
Well, you’ve written over 20 books, you’re still speaking a hundred times a year all across the country, and a lot of folks get blessed with your American Minute as well. Thanks for all that you do to bring truth to a culture that maybe doesn’t want to hear it all the time, but I think they’re getting more and more hungry for truth, Bill.
Well, they are. And of course, everywhere I go I recommend WallBuilders, and Rick Greene, and David Barton, and Tim Barton, and the great work you’re doing.
Well, thanks, man. I think part of that seeking truth, at this point, has to be reaching back into history. And it’s getting a little bit more popular to reach back at least to the founding era. But you’ve done something really cool with your new book. You’ve gone back before the founding era and said, “What caused the pilgrims to come? What caused, really, the beginning of what would then launch the greatest nation in history?” What made you what made you decide to go back before the American founding to find out what happened?
Well, it’s interesting, a lot of the situations we’re facing today get their origin back during this period. Muhammad started his faith 610 A.D., conquers North Africa. People forget North Africa was Christian. There were 250 Catholic diocese along North Africa. And then Egypt used to be Christian. It was Coptic, evangelized by Mark who wrote the Gospel – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Until Amir *, the Muslim leader conquers it, the area had been completely Christian for six centuries. Evangelize by the Apostle Paul until Khalife *Rubar conquered it.
Then, of course, they conquered Spain – held it for 700 years. But then they came around and invaded what is today Turkey. And the Christians there begged the West for help. The West sent help – it’s called the first crusade. But when the Crusades end, the Muslims conquered Constantinople cutting off the land routes to India and China. And that’s when Columbus set sail looking for a sea route. But they continue and in 1529, a hundred thousand Muslims surround Vienna, Austria.
Charles V Had a Dilemma
And Europe has the most powerful leaders – the king of Spain, Charles V. And just 12 years earlier the Reformation had started with Martin Luther. So, Charles V is faced with a double dilemma. Protestant Reformation on one hand, muslim invasion on the other. So, he does something that even affects us today, it’s called the Peace of Augsburg 1555. It’s the first treaty ever to recognise Protestants legally in a treaty.
And in there is a little Latin phrase, * religio, which means, “Whose is the reign, his is religion.” In other words, “Look, protestant king, believe whatever you want in your kingdom. Let’s just work together against these Muslims who are invading Europe because they want to conquer us all.” Well, it started the domino effect. In the next century different kings believed different things. And if you didn’t believe the way your particular King did it was considered treason. So, there was this mass migration of people shifting in one country in Europe to another. And England became Anglican, Scotland Presbyterian, Holland Dutch Reformed, and Northern Germany and Sweden were Lutheran, Switzerland Calvinist, and of course Italy, Spain, France, Austria, Poland, Roman Catholic. But these were the dynamics that were going on. And we focus in the book on England–
By the way, name of the book is, The Treacherous World of the 16th Century and How the Pilgrims Escaped It – the Prequel to America’s Freedom. I feel like in three minutes I just got a thousand years of history. You summarized that so well. So, then, why did you key in specifically on what happened right after 1555? I assume that that was your main focus there?
Why Key In Specifically Right After 1555?
Right. It’s sort of like a soap opera. You have the king of England, Henry VIII, is married to Catherine of Aragon. She was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the ones who sent Columbus to America, and who finally drove the Muslims out of Spain. And anyway, after 18 years, Catherine does not have a son. So, Henry VIII decides to divorce her. The pope will not recognize the divorce because earlier that same year the King of Spain’s army invaded italy and imprisoned the pope for six months. So, the pope is not in any hurry to get on the wrong side of the King of Spain, so he doesn’t recognize the divorce from the daughter of the previous king of Spain.
And so, Henry decides to make himself his own pope. He starts the church of England, puts himself on as the head, and he goes on to have six wives. And their fates were divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. So, Henry VIII was not a really nice guy to be married to. He ended up being over 400 pounds, and had gout his legs, and so forth.
Anyway, he divorces Catherine. His second wife is Anne Boleyn and she’s a Protestant. So, when he marries her, his advisers suggest to him that if he’s serious about breaking from Rome he needs to stop using that latin Bible, get himself an English Bible. The German princes had Luther’s German Bible, that had helped them to break away. So, Henry says, “Great. Give me an English Bible.” Well, it just so happened three years earlier Henry VIII had William Tindall burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. William Tindall’s last words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”
Well, now it’s three years later, he wants to do this divorce. So, they get together a Bible, it’s called the great Bible, and Henry orders a copy of it placed in every church in England. He dusts his hands thinking, “That’s it. We separated from Rome.” But something unexpected happened. People began to read it, began to compare what’s in this Bible to this getting divorced thing and beheading his wives, and claiming to be the head of Christ’s Church.
The Birth of the Pilgrims
So, a group starts that wants to purify the church of England. They’re nicknamed “the Puritans”. The king obviously doesn’t think needs purifying. So, he persecutes the Puritans. Another group said, “It’s beyond hope of purifying the Church of England. We’re simply going to separate ourselves.” And they would meet in barns and basements by candlelight. They eventually fled to Holland, they fled to America, we call them – the pilgrims.
So, it is fascinating to see this history that goes into the Pilgrims coming over. Now, the king had an archbishop named William Laud. And Laud would send spies into the churches to listen to the sermons and if a pastor did not follow the Anglican liturgy, the pastor was arrested. If you had five people meeting in your home and you’re talking religion without approval of the government, you’re all criminals they’ll bust into your home and arrest everybody.
Church without a license.
Yeah, they passed the Act of Uniformity that said, “Yes, you can read the Bible in your old language, but no, you can’t believe what you want.” You want to say a prayer? You open it to the page. It’s the common book of prayer. You just read it. And if you are preaching within five miles of a town without a license from the government, you’re a criminal, and they’ll drag you before the star chamber. It was a room in the government buildings which had stars on the ceiling. And they would twist your arm, cut off your ear, cut your nose in half, even brand you on the face as a heretic with the letters SL for seditious libel.
So, this is what the Pilgrims were facing in England. This was government persecution. You had to believe what the government tells you – whether it’s transgender, or whatever today we’re facing. Back then it was you had to believe the government doctrine. So, this gives the setting for the Pilgrims fleeing.
Another angle I take is history–
And it also sets the– really planted the seeds for why two generations later we would want religious liberty so bad.
Four generations later, I guess, but yeah.
It’s so very important. In England, and in Europe, and in the Muslim countries, you had to believe what the king told you to believe. It’s the divine right of kings, the king placed himself between you and God. He was the divine intermediary. And America’s founders departed from that. And interestingly enough, it was through the Bible.
I’ve going to ask you, man, because I had never realized Henry VIII role in distributing that Bible. Obviously, for different reasons than we would distribute Bibles today. But how– all throughout history, God uses people that we would not expect to be used for His purposes.
Yeah. There were other people that wrote versions of the Bible, but there was more academic. With the great Bible he actually ordered copies placed in every single church. So, for the first time in over a thousand years, people could actually read the book in the language that they spoke.
The First Insurance Companies?
Another quick angle I take is companies. So, during the Middle Ages it was a sin called usury, the paying or receiving of interest. So, there were no companies. There were guilds, like a thousand rules if you wanted to open up a shoemaker’s shop, but there were no companies. If you wanted to do some big endeavor, like sail around the world looking for spices, you had to hit up a rich person or a king.
But once the Reformation happened, the first company started and there was the Dutch East India Company. Anybody could invest in a ship going to Indonesia. When it came back filled full of spices you’d all get paid a profit. And if you wanted to sell your interest in the ship you would go down to the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and sell it. If the ship sank, well, that’s when the Dutch invented insurance companies.
Now, England had their very first company ever was going to sail north of Russia to get over to China. Obviously, it didn’t work. They all froze in the ice. But one of the ships was rescued by a dog sled, took him to Ivan the Great, the Russian Czar in Moscow. So, that was not really profitable, but it was a good- Well, then the British did the East India Company, which eventually took over all of India. But then they had the Virginia Company. So, it was a pretty good deal for the king – he risked nothing, but he got a percentage of what came in. He just gave some rich guys a monopoly. Well, the Virginia Company went bankrupt. Five hundred people dying. And then the king sends over a royal governor and says, “I’m not going to pay you, you’ve got to raise your own money.”
So, in Virginia the royal governor says, “Okay, landowners, get together and figure out who’s going to pay me.” And while they’re getting together they decide who’s going to fix the potholes in the roads, who’s going to defend against the Indians, and it back doors Virginia into a legislative assembly.
And then, of course, the third type a colony is a proprietary colony where the king gives the whole thing to a friend. Like Lord Baltimore gets all of Maryland, William Penn gets all of Pennsylvania. Why is this important? Well, the Pilgrims were going to land in the King-run Colony of Virginia. They get blown off course five hundred miles, they land in Massachusetts. No problem, just back out into the ocean and go down.
Well, it’s stormy it’s winter, and they almost sink. East of Cape Cod is the graveyard of ships. The sandy shoals go out miles into the ocean, the ships get stuck, and in a storm get splintered up. So, the Pilgrims all sink. The captain backs out, goes back to Plymouth Rocks, says, “Too dangerous. Everybody off the boat.” The Pilgrims like raise their hand and say, “We have a question – who’s going to be in charge of us? The whole world is ruled by kings. We were going to land and the king run Colony of Virginia. And you’re telling us to get off?”
A Unique Solution
They did something unique. They give themselves the authority to start a government – it’s called the Mayflower Compact. “We in the presence of God, covenant ourselves together to form a civil body politic. To enact just and equal laws it shall be thought most meat [or necessary] unto which we promise all due submission. Simple, revolutionary. It’s a polarity change in world government. Instead of everything run top down by kings through their royal governors or whatever, it’s bottom up, it’s we the people.
In the room in the hull of this little Pilgrim Mayflower is this polarity change from top down to bottom up. And this becomes a model for the other New England colonies, and eventually the U.S. Constitution. Which starts off how – we the people.
Yeah, so good. So, there’s so much there that actually laid the foundation for what we enjoy today, but we never think about it. We just don’t and we don’t teach these things anymore. So, we don’t think about what caused it. And I would say, “Why study all this?” Because it’s so easy to get off the path, and give up those principles and those foundations, if you don’t realize where they came from and why the founders thought these things were so important.
So, by going back another– really you go back an extra 200 years, and trace it from there. It really helps us understand why this is so important to to preserve these very principles.
Israel – A Nation of Firsts
Well, you read A Secular History book and it says the founders got all their ideas from the age of enlightenment. The age of enlightenment started in the early 1660s. Well, we’re talking early 1500s through the early 1600s. So, for that century after the Reformation, all the scholars in Europe are studying what – the Bible, but particularly the first 400 years when Israel came out of Egypt. It’s called the Hebrew Republic. And these Christian Puritan scholars are called Christian Hebraists. And they were experts in the Jewish law – even later rabbis quoted from them.
So, they were fascinated with this first 400 year period when Israel came out of Egypt. Why? Because they didn’t have a King Saul yet they were a nation of millions of people ruled without a king. And every little village got to elect their own city elders, and the elders would elect somebody to go to the tribe meeting, who would elect some leaders to go to the Sanhedrin, which was the Hebrew Senate – 70 elders. It’s a bottom up form of government.
And they were the first nation with private land ownership because wherever there’s a king you never really own the land. It’s always conditional of you staying on the nice side of the king. Israel is the first nation where citizens could own weapons, right. Wherever there’s a king, he has an army to enforce his will. In Israel, every man was in the militia, and armed with a sword upon his thigh, and ready at a moment’s notice to defend his family and his community.
And Israel was the first nation that could read. Only one percent of Egypt could read. Reading and writing was the scribes secret knowledge. They had 3,000 hieroglyphs and they kept them complicated on purpose as job security.
When It Stops Being Taught
When Moses comes down the mountain he has the law in 22 characters, so easy to learn. Kids could learn it. And the Levites job was to not just teach the law, but to teach them how to read the law. So, Israel was a citizen dependent model where every citizen is educated and moral accountable to God. And it worked for 400 years as long as the priest taught it. When the priest stopped teaching the law, every man did what’s right in their own eyes, the rubber band snaps back, they get King Saul.
But this was the period these colonial founders of Massachusetts, and Connecticut, New Hampshire, they studied this Hebrew Republic period of history and incorporated that into the model of the government that we have. And I can go on and on, but it was a fascinating study, Rick.
It is, Bill, and you just hit on, really, we should close out with. And that is that after 400 years the priests stopped teaching it, the people stopped living it. Boy, do we see parallels of that today – if we stop teaching those principles, the people stop living those principles and we move towards socialism and tyranny.
So, the answer is to rediscover those principles. Start teaching them again. And if the priests aren’t going to do it, we’ve got to do it in our own homes. Parents have got to do it. We’ve got to do it in our communities, we’ve got to get our friends and our neighbors to study these things. That’s why what you’re doing is so important, Bill, it’s why we do what we do here. AmericanMinute.com is the website. You can get all of Bill’s books there and listen to his commentary. And this new book– now Bill, the new book, is that also your website or is that on Amazon? Where do you prefer people go for that?
Either way – Amazon.com or my website, AmericanMinute.com.
I just so appreciate you, Rick, and all of what you, and David, and Tim, and everyone at WallBuilders, is doing. It was an honor being on your show today.
Well, we appreciate you coming on. Folks, the book is,The Treacherous World of the 16th Century and How the Pilgrims Escaped It – the Prequel to America’s Freedom. It really outlines the foundation of how we got what we get to enjoy today.
Bill, God bless you, man. Appreciate you coming on. Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
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Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Thanks to Bill Federer for joining us today as well. We’ll have links to his websites at our website today at WallBuildersLive.com.
David, Tim, I feel like I just got a college course in 10 minutes. That was a wealth of information from Bill.
Making More Sense Out of the Big Picture
There was so much information and, guys, obviously as people who are very involved in history, and read a lot of history– and actually, so I get Bill’s American minute and I try to read them as much as possible. Sometimes there’s too much in my inbox to go through all of it, but there’s always stuff I learn. And yet with how much I’ve learned about history it’s amazing that I can listen to him and go, “Okay, I never heard that before.” I had no idea even, so wait a second, so and so was the granddaughter of who? This is crazy.
It’s so much detail, but it’s interesting when you start to learn the details, the big picture makes so much more sense.
Well, I was that way when when he said that Henry VIII’s wife was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella.
And that’s what I was referencing.
Are you kidding me? Columbus’ Ferdinand and Isabella, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella is who married Henry VIII.
Yeah, I did not know that.
That was like, man.
So, was she the one that wouldn’t give him a son or–
None of them would. I mean, why did he have–
Right. So, which one was she? Yeah, but it’s one of those things that as you start to study history and you see these connections it really does help the big picture make so much more sense of why the Pilgrims felt like they couldn’t have the religious freedom they wanted where they were. Why did they have to go somewhere different? Why did things have to look different? And when you understand so much of the background of the hostility toward Christianity, of the coercion against Christianity, or the religion, or the freedom of religion, the rights of conscience. The big picture makes so much more sense. I’m excited to get this book and get some more details on this.
It Sounds Like Today!
Well, I found it really interesting. There were two things he said that really stood out and said, hey, that’s happening today. He talked about how they passed the Act of Uniformity. Everybody had to believe the same thing. That kind of sounds like liberal progressive academia today. You have to believe what we believe, and we’ve got our own act of uniformity, and if you don’t believe it we won’t hire you, and you can’t teach here, and if you don’t like this then you find a different school. So, the Act of Uniformity, that’s like that’s nothing new.
The other one that stood out was he said that the king produced the great Bible. He said, but something unexpected happened – the people began to read the Bible. That’s us today. If we ever got around to reading the Bible, man, what it would do to transform and revolutionize the culture.
We’ve got Bibles everywhere. The average American home has 4.4 Bibles. But those who have actually read through the Bible – only 14 percent a year. If we read the Bible it would change things.
The American Value System and Critical Events that Led to It
It changes your whole mindset. It changes the way you treat other people, it changes your view on issues in the culture, it changes everything. So, you are 100 percent right that we should.
Thanks to Bill Federer for joining us today. Thank you for listening today to WallBuilders.
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