September 2021 – Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
These famous words by Reagan are familiar to many, but the concept of preserving liberty did not originate with the 40th president.
The idea can be traced back to this nation’s founding. At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, after leaving Independence Hall on the final day of deliberations, it has been famously reported that a lady questioned Benjamin Franklin: “Well doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Aaron Ferguson, a teacher at Christian Heritage Academy (CHA) in Del City, Oklahoma, is doing his part to ensure the next generation has the tools necessary to “keep it” – that is, to protect and advance the cause of liberty.
The 2020 pandemic shutdown allowed Ferguson time to complete his fourth book, The Liberty Pyramid: The Founders’ Framework, a work he said has been 25 years in the making, a result of what he has learned while teaching at CHA.
Ferguson spoke with AFA Journal about his book and his concerns about liberty slipping away.
AFA Journal: Let’s start with the title, The Liberty Pyramid. How did you arrive at this concept you describe as “The Founders’ Framework,” illustrated by this multi-tiered pyramid?
Aaron Ferguson: As a teacher of America’s Christian history and government, I am constantly looking for ways to make difficult concepts simple for students to understand. I knew that God had done some amazing things in the founding of our country, but I felt completely inadequate to tell the story.
The more I read and studied, I began to realize that the pieces of liberty were and are interdependent. One relies on the others, and that’s where the illustration of a pyramid seemed to fit perfectly.
AFAJ: What do you mean when you say liberty is not a gift of the government, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or anything else?
AF: There is a higher power than man – the Creator God – a reality which the founders called “a self-evident truth,” and liberty was endowed to us by Him at creation.
AFAJ: Why is that distinction so important?
AF: If liberty is a gift of man (civil government), then that gives man (civil government) the authority to reduce or even remove liberty. But the opposite is true. Since liberty is a gift of God, then the purpose of civil government (which was instituted by God) is to protect that gift, not to prohibit it. Civil government exists because liberty existed first.
Also, in America “We the People” are the highest authority under God, and our civil leaders are our elected servants. They serve the purpose of “securing the blessings of liberty” as we have ordained in the Constitution. The state (civil government) exists for us; we do not exist for the state.
AFAJ: Why is liberty so rare and so easily lost?
AF: The simple answer is sin. Sin is the source of all man’s troubles. Man’s history is the story of one oppressive culture after another. Still the Lord has shown us the way to experience internal and external liberty through Christ. Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away … for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:16-17). Only a society that starts with Christianity can experience the fullest degree of liberty.
However, though liberty historically has been difficult to attain, liberty is easily lost. When we forget the cause of liberty, we will inevitably forfeit the effects of liberty.
AFAJ: How important is an educated citizenry?
AF: In a letter to Charles Yancey (1816), Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.” An enlightened citizenry will best preserve its liberty. Ignorant people are easily controlled, often have their rights taken away or, even worse, give their rights away.
It is not enough just to know that we have rights or liberties; we must know the principles behind them – where they come from, what they mean, and how to preserve them. How else will we know when they are being violated?
AFAJ: You cite Samuel Adams as emphasizing education, morality, and religion as three necessary pieces of a self-governed citizenry. How strong are those three pieces in the nation today?
AF: Just as religion, morality, and education are necessary supports of liberty, the opposite is also true. When these three pieces are removed or compromised, then liberty will be supplanted by tyranny.
Our once exemplary education system has been replaced with socialist indoctrination. Our heritage of Christian character has been gutted by the dry rot of cultural Marxism. Our once faithful commitment to biblical Christianity has been divorced for the love of secular humanism. Consequently, the window of liberty is closing rapidly.
AFAJ: What else would you like to add?
AF: I want to make sure readers know that The Liberty Pyramid does not glorify America, the founders, or even liberty. It glorifies the gospel, which is at the base or the foundation of the pyramid. Liberty is a result of the gospel. This book glorifies Christ and His Word, the truth that sets people free.
However, if we let the liberty window close, the inevitable tyranny will quickly put an end to religious liberty and the propagation of the gospel. We must preserve our liberty!
Constitution Day September 17
The U.S. Constitution was ratified September 17, 1787. Aaron Ferguson shared his thoughts on that sacred document:
The Constitution is the rulebook for our republic and our representatives. If we become ignorant of the rules, then how will we know when and how they are being broken? The Constitution and Bill of Rights restrain the power of the federal government, which allows us the liberty to govern ourselves.
Those restrictions must forever remain in place, or there will be terrible consequences. If the federal government ever removes those restraints, or neglects them as it is currently doing, and we do not keep it accountable, then it will do great harm. “We the People” must know the Constitution, teach it to our children, and protect it from those who wish to destroy it.
Visit Aaron Ferguson’s website at biay.org to learn more about America’s Christian history and government as well as access to his books including Study Guide for the One Year Chronological Bible, Daily Reflections for the One Year Chronological Bible, and The Baker’s Bread (a 66-day devotional).