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Gaining Wisdom from the Founding Fathers


Joshua Charles is just 27-years-old, but that hasn’t stopped him from making strides in the areas of music, law, television, and writing.  He is a concert pianist, a public speaker, and a law student at Regent University.  In 2011, he co-authored a book with Glen Beck called The Original Argument that discussed the importance of the Federalist papers. The book, which became a New York Times bestseller, explained the importance of the document and how they illustrate the Founders’ core constitutional principles. Joshua is also a writer for the Museum of the Bible, an organization that encourages people to engage with the bible through research, traveling exhibits, education, and a museum that will open in Washington, D.C. in 2017. 


In Liberty’s Secrets, Joshua unearths writings from our nation’s founders to discover how they really felt about hot button issues today, such as education, religion, government, and the American dream.  He uses sources such as their letters, diaries, newspaper editorials, speeches, memos, and even lesser known books that they published and lets them say, in their own words, how they felt about the important issues. 

Joshua says the Founders felt the role of government was to protect us from our own innate moral failings.  He says, “the founders, whether they were individual adherents or not, adopted the profoundly Judeo-Christian concept of man’s dual nature: his dignity and his depravity, his greatness and his wickedness.” Therefore, the role of government was to show us the proper way to live when our internal moral compass failed. 

Since their foundation was Judeo-Christian, they believed that God, not the Government, gives human rights. The role of the government is to protect and preserve those rights, not give or revoke them. Joshua lists the roles as follows: 

1.    Government exists for man, not man for government;
2.    Government exists to protect rights of citizens, not violate or bestow them;
3.    Government is accountable to the people and rules by their consent.

Religion, Virtue, and Morality:

To the fathers, virtue was an essential component of liberty. Virtue meant being a good steward of one’s appetites and passions. Virtues like frugality, sincerity, justice, humility, and temperance were important to the founding fathers. Their ideas of virtue were religious at their foundation. Like their ideas about government, their ideas about virtue were connected with Judeo-Christian ideas of moral values.

Joshua says that essentially, when the founders said the word “religion” in their writings, they were most often referring to Christianity, since Christianity was the dominant religious belief of the colonies. However, they didn’t mean the doctrine as much as they meant the practice and principles. They say that, “virtue is moral action based on duty to oneself and one’s fellow man, and as such enables the greatest degree of human flourishing possible.”

Knowledge and Education:
The fathers knew that knowledge is intricately connected to liberty. They believed the primary way to receive knowledge was education, but purpose of knowledge was more than just getting information. The fathers wanted to have wisdom and discernment so that they could make the kind of wise decisions that benefited individuals as well as society.  They were all well read, and they were students of history, philosophy, etc.  It is important to understand that by education, they did not always mean formal education. Sometimes education was obtained by becoming  a voracious reader.

Furthermore, having an education wasn’t just simply acquiring knowledge, but it also lead to having a moral education.  Knowledge alone was not enough. Acquiring a strong and well rounded education, regardless of the method of doing so, would render you capable of being a good citizen.

The American Dream:

Although the founding fathers didn’t use the term “The American Dream,” they certainly had ideas about the ideal American life and what it entailed. George Washington tended to describe the ideal American life in terms of Micah 4:4 : “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.” He used this verse to illustrate the desire to “simply be on his farm, minding his own business, at peace, at liberty, and left to his own affairs.”

Joshua describes this ideal as “the ability of each man to exercise his liberty, without government interference, in a morally responsible way so as to reap the fruits of his own labor and talents, and thereby contribute to the good of himself and society.”

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Author, Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders (WND Books, 2016)

CoAuthor, with Glen Beck: The Original Argument: The Federalists' Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century (Simon & Schuster,2011)

Law Student, Regent University

Concert Pianist

Public Speaker


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