While modern secularists insist on marginalizing Christians, characterizing them as irrelevant and removing them from the public discussion, Christians have played bigger roles in history than we are told.
In fact, history is chocked full of heroes who gladly bore the stigma of their personal relationship to Christ. And, while you will probably recognize the names of most of these prominent figures, their Christian faith may surprise you.
Sir Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake was the son of a Protestant minister and received a strong Christian upbringing and education. Some resources show that the Drake family was persecuted for their Christian faith, which forced them to move from their comfortable family farm to an abandoned ship in southeastern England. The family began ministering to local sailors. It was in this period that Drake learned about sea navigation and life.
Recovering thousands of pounds of treasure and almost miraculously defeating the Spanish Armada, Drake came home with a fortune and a legendary reputation. After being knighted and receiving funding from Queen Elizabeth I, Drake began his journey around the world. From 1577 to 1580, Drake circumvented the world, becoming the first Englishman to do so. He was later named vice admiral of the English navy.
Whether on land or at sea, Drake’s faith was vital to him. He is noted to have called his sailors to prayer and repentance, and his journeys were taken with his chaplain, Reverend Francis Fletcher, who conducted the first Protestant church service in North America while travelling with Drake. Drake zealously evangelized to the natives he met on his journeys. He is credited with writing the powerful prayer, “Disturb us, O Lord,” a prayer to shake believers from half-hearted Christianity.
When Wallace (1270-1305) was a boy, Scotland was under English rule and in a state of moral disarray. He was hurt deeply by the state of his nation, and he endeavored to do something about it: He would win back Scottish independence from England and the corrupted Celtic lordship.
Raised as a Christian from his childhood, Wallace’s religious convictions motivated his military actions. While others sought the help of Scottish nobility, Wallace saw the men of this class to lack integrity and virtue.
Wallace was a man equipped with great physical power and mental vigor, and he marked his military life with prayer and Christian character. He also served as a foreign ambassador for Scotland throughout Western Europe.
His courageous actions left him a target for those seeking power. During his trial for treason, he defended himself with intellectual skill and great tenacity and humility. His last action while living was to ask that his Psalter – given to him as a boy – be held in front of his face until he expired.
Gutenberg revolutionized intellectualism by his development of the moveable type press. While the development expanded literacy more than any other movement in history, his purpose was not to create a more intellectual population, but rather a more biblically literate population.
Gutenberg’s most famous article to come off his printing press was a complete Bible, printed in the vernacular.
Clearly influenced by the Reformation, Gutenberg’s press allowed the widespread publishing of tracts, Bibles and other literature that promoted Christianity to be made available to a wider audience through low-cost, faster printing. Through his efforts, Bibles became a household item, changing Christianity and the world forever.
Though this name may not be as familiar as previous ones, we are familiar with his many inventions. Scotsman William Thomson received a thorough education at home and entered university at the age of eleven. At the ripe age of 22, he was already a philosophy professor at the University of Glasgow.
Thomson, naturally curious, turned from his metaphysical studies to physical. He opened the first physics lab in England and was hugely influential in his studies of electricity, magnetism and thermodynamics. He also developed a scale of temperature measurement used by scientists called the Kelvin scale, based on his research in absolute zero. He gained fame and name when he began developing communication via telegraphs that could reach across oceans. He also was able to develop communication technology between ships and land.
From 1890 to 1895, he served as president of the Royal Society in England, the greatest scientific league of the day.
What few know of Lord Kelvin is his undying devotion to Christ. He was a daily church attender through his life and used his scientific research to promote biblical veracity. His faith and work inspired the modern creation science movement.
Although his name has become an American synonym for the word “signature” — thanks to his prominent spot on the Declaration of Independence — few people know the man behind the name.
Hancock was the president of the Continental Congress, the first governor of Massachusetts, and a general in the Revolutionary War, but Hancock’s faith was what really defined him as a person.
A life-long member of a church with a Reformed background, Hancock was well-versed in biblical doctrine. During his time as governor, he encouraged repentance and thanksgiving to God among all the residents of the state. John Hancock’s faith was hardly ambiguous. One of his proclamations urged citizens to pray “that all may bow to the scepter of our Lord Jesus Christ and that the whole Earth may be filled with his glory.”
Turner, Michael. In Drake’s Wake– The Life of Sir Francis Drake. http://www.indrakeswake.co.uk/Education/drakeslife.htm The Crake Exploration Society. Web.
William Wallace. http://www.thesonsofscotland.co.uk/williamwallace.htm The Sons of Scotland, Paisley Tartan Society. Web.
Lord Kelvin (William Thomson). http://www.todayinsci.com/K/Kelvin_Lord/Kelvin_Lord.htm Web.
Smith, Gary. John Hancock: A Neglected American Hero. http://www.visionandvalues.org/2010/07/john-hancock-a-neglected-american-hero/ The Center for Visions and Values. Web.
Johannes Gutenberg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg Wikipedia. Web.