"Great Seal of the United States"
Thank you I.T., and good morning gentlemen.
Those of you who were here for the meeting
two years ago may remember that I reported on a WWII
incident involving General George Patton, and his demand
to his Chaplain to publish a prayer for good weather
because, as he put it, “I'm tired of these soldiers
having to fight mud and floods as well as Germans. Let’s
see if we can't get God to work on our side.”
Apparently, I.T. liked what I did, because he asked
me to return a year later and do it again, so I did.
Then, he asked me to address you again just last December,
and those of you who were here for that session may
recall that I challenged the various groups and individuals
who were going about bashing Christians, and denying
the Christian roots of the American Founding. Today
I would like to continue on that theme, by reading to
you an adaptation of something written by Dr. Thomas
G. West, a Vietnam vet, an author, a Professor at the
University of Dallas, and a senior fellow of the Claremont
The topic is the Great Seal of the United
States, and before we begin, I’d like you all
to reach in your pocket and get out a one dollar bill,
and look at the Great Seal printed on that bill.
If you’re looking at a picture
of George Washington, you’re looking at the wrong
side of the bill. Turn it over.
On the right side of the bill is a circle
with an eagle in it. That’s the front of the Great
Seal. On the left side of the bill there is a circle
with a pyramid in it. That’s the reverse of the
seal. Today, I’m going to talk about the reverse
of the seal – what’s in the circle on the
left. And I’m going to talk about professor West’s
judgment that the Founders' conception of God's relation
to America was pictured in the Great Seal, and his judgment
that the reverse side of the Seal — represents
the theological teaching of the Declaration of Independence.
The task of designing a great seal was
begun in 1776, and was worked on, off and on, by three
different committees, over several years, until the
final version, co-designed by Charles Thomson and William
Barton, was accepted in 1782.
Much nonsense has been written about
the Seal's supposed Masonic symbolism. Perhaps the most
popular misconception is that the eye above the pyramid
comes from Masonic symbolism. First of all, there is
no evidence that any of the people who worked on the
design of the seal were Masons. Secondly, what is generally
regarded as the definitive history of the Seal, a 681
page report published by the State Department for the
Bicentennial in 1976, finds no evidence to support the
claim of Masonic inspiration or meaning. And finally,
this notion disregards the time line fact that the eye
was not used in Masonic documents until 21 years after
it appeared in the first draft of the great seal.
The reverse of the Seal consists of
two parts: a heavenly eye, which was part of the common
cultural iconography of the times, and an earthly pyramid.
Each part is labeled with a Latin motto, taken from
the great Roman poet, Virgil.
In the earthly part, a pyramid rises
toward the heaven. Congress adopted co-designer Charles
Thomson's 1782 report as part of its law approving the
Seal. It explains that "The pyramid signifies strength
and duration." On the base of the pyramid is the
Roman number MDCCLXXVI (1776), the date of the Declaration
of Independence. The pyramid has thirteen rows of bricks,
signifying the thirteen original states. The pyramid
is the United States, a solid structure of freedom,
built on the foundation of the Declaration, in a world
hostile to civil and religious liberty. It is unfinished
because America is a work in progress. More states will
be added later.
Above the unfinished pyramid is an eye
which was originally suggested by a consultant and artist
who worked on the first Great Seal committee. He described
the eye as “The Eye of Providence[meaning God]
in a radiant Triangle.” Dr. West noted that co-designer
Thomson also called this the eye of providence and that
the design and placement of God's eye suggests that
America is connected to the divine in the following
First, the eye keeps watch over America,
protecting her from her enemies. Thomson's report explains:
"The eye over it and the motto allude to the many
signal interventions of providence in favor of the American
cause." The Declaration of Independence had expressed
"a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence."
Second, the complete triangle enclosing
God's eye is a model for the incomplete or imperfect
triangular shape of the pyramid below. The perfect divine
shape symbolizes God's perfection, which we know through
his laws, which in turn guide and govern the construction
of the earthly pyramid. The Declaration says that America,
grounded on "the laws of nature and of nature's
God," seeks to secure the rights with which the
Creator endowed all men. America is a work in progress
in a deeper sense than its number of states. No matter
how many rows of bricks (new states) are added to the
pyramid, America must always look to the Supreme Being
as, and at, her "zenith," to be true to what
she is and aspires to be. In the spirit of the Seal,
Lincoln once said:
It is said in one of the admonitions
of the Lord (Mat 5:48), "As your Father in Heaven
is perfect, be ye also perfect." Lincoln continued:
The Savior, I suppose, did not expect that any human
creature could be perfect as the Father in Heaven. .
. . He set that up as a standard, and he who did most
towards reaching that standard, attained the highest
degree of moral perfection. So I say that in relation
to the principle that all men are created equal, let
it be as nearly reached as we can.
Third, the all-seeing eye is not only
America's protector and ruling guide. God is also her
judge. This theme is not as obvious as the first two,
but it is implied by the Latin motto above the triangle,
which translates to, "He approves of what has been
started." These words imply that God will no longer
approve if America strays too far from the right path
— if the shape of the pyramid departs too far
from the divine model.
In sum, America is a nation "under
God" in three ways. God protects America; God perfects
and rules America; and God judges America.
The pyramid is labeled novus ordo seclorum,
which translates to, "a new order of the ages";
or, “for a new beginning.” Thomson's report
explains, "the words under it signify the beginning
of the New American Era, which commences from that date
." America is a "new order," because
nothing like the American founding has ever happened.
No nation has ever grounded itself on the universal
principle that we are all endowed by our Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
We can now see that General Patton's
demand for a weather prayer was well grounded in what
we may call America's non-established civil religion,
as taught in the Declaration of Independence, the Great
Seal, and in the last stanza of the national anthem,
the Star-Spangled Banner, which reads like this:
Then conquer we must, when our cause
it is just,
And this be our motto — "In
God is our trust."
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave,
O'er the land of the free, and the home
of the brave. … Amen
Every time I have been before you I
have concluded with a prayer for our military, and I
would like to do the same today. Please bow your heads
and join me:
Today there are 468 Thousand -- American
men and women in uniform stationed in 135 countries
around the world.
We pray You keep them safe,
we pray You keep them strong,
we pray You send them safely home ...
Bless those who await their safe return.
And Bless the friends and relatives
who mourn the casualties in Iraq: The MIAs, the more
than 11,000 wounded, and the more than 1500 Killed In
In Jesus name we ask ...
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