July 11, 2008
You can find the light and the glory at amazon. Funny thing, the Christian high school I went to in the 80's used that book for our U.S. history book. Personally, Christian propaganda!
If you go back a hundred years or so, you will find other books which demonstrate how God had uniquely shaped the greatest Empire the world had ever seen to be a special nation fit for his purpose. British society and politics were seen by some then as being unique in the way that God had shown them favour. Of course, God then went on to get it all disastrously wrong over the first world-war and the United Kingdom went into decline. <br><br>My parents were of a generation shaped by that myth of Britain being the greatest and most blessed nation on the earth and it has been strange and rather poignant to actually get to grips with the reality of both the decline and the fact that we aren't that special after all.<br><br>I don't know which superpower/empire will replace the United States but I do know that when it does Christian writers will tell the story of how that nation is unique in God's purposes.
You actually read it as a textbook? Wow. Is it as over-the-top as the Touchstone article describes?<br><br>I can't believe I've not heard of this book before now. I went to a Christian school growing up, but my history classes stuck to traditional history books.
I read the book decades ago, and the main thing I disagreed with it about was the idea that the Pilgrims had established a covenant with God, in very much the same way as Old Testament Israel, and that God's dealings with the U.S. were based on its faithfulness to that covenant. When Americans were faithful to God, kept his law, etc., the nation was blessed; when it was not, it was punished. <br>Basically the book is about how the Holy Spirit has opened their eyes to this truth. If I remember correctly, the authors are repeatedly saying something like this: "I (one of the co-authors) put down my coffee cup and stared, amazed, into the eyes of (the other co-author.) So THAT was why America was so much better back in the 1700s--because they knew that they should keep God's covenant." <br>The reason that I have to make up quotes like this from memory is that I got rid of the book, because this whole approach set off alarm bells with me, too. There is no scriptural foundation for this idea of a national covenant at all and hasn't been since Old Testament times. To say otherwise is to say that the laws and customs of the 1600s and 1700s are just as binding on us as Americans as the Old Testament laws were on the Israelites. The whole approach opens the door to a lot of very questionable theology. For example, in another section the authors talk about how the Pilgrims were on the Mayflower sailing across the Atlantic, and they were all safely below deck. One of the indentured servants on board wanted to stick his head above deck to get a breath of fresh air. His master told him not to, but he did anyway--and nearly got swept overboard. Thus he learned the importance of obedience to his master. I am paraphrasing, since again I lost my copy long ago, but this seems like a sop to the "heavy shepherding" crowd, and an example of the kind of questionable statements which abound in this book. <br>Probably a worse problem is that if we assume that everything the Pilgrim forefathers did was OK we have to radically reinterpret our view of things like the Salem witch trials, the Sabbath laws in various states which called for the death penalty for persistent non-attendance at church, etc. <br>So no, I didn't think it was a Biblical way to understand American history.
If you pray and ask God to help you with something, and the something happens, do you say then that it was God that took care of it? If so, it would seem that American history, and the rest of the world's history, can be said to be God's Providence. Was Columbus praying to find a new route to the Indies, or was he praying that God would keep them safe? Was he praying for wisdom guiding ships, or was he asking for fame? We will never know his heart or his prayer. We don't know why God answered him with the discovery of a "New World." The sad part of the story of history is that not all men are asking for good things, nor do they all ask of God. Evil rules this world, it is in the greatnesses that occur despite Evil that we see God has not forsaken his Creation. God is in history wherever goodness and righteousness win.
<i>Itâ€™s especially suspicious when your vision of providential history coincidentally casts your own country and society as the God-ordained protagonist.</i><br><br>I agree completely! <br><br>It seems to me that one could easily write a work explaining how Allah oversaw the formation of Arab nations, or how God oversaw the rise of Nazi Germany. It seems to me to be all in the eye of the beholder. Great post!
The best exposition on this subject is Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural address. He points out that both sides in the Civil War prayed to the same God for victory. Both could not be right. Possibly neither one was right. But the Almighty has his own purposes. Lincoln noted afterward that the speech would not be popular, because "Men do not like to be reminded that God has purposes other than theirs." I don't have a problem with the idea that God is, in some subtle way of God's own, moving through the history of, among other things, the USA. I have a problem with any person or group proclaiming that I, we, our nation, our cause, IS the cause God is moving to advance. This article does affirm for me that it was a wise decision not to subscribe to Touchstone. The articles were interesting and well written, and I could have had fun joining in the discussion they could have provoked. But for anyone to claim that OUR magazine is THE representative of "mere Christianity" seemed a bit arrogant. Indeed, it IS arrogant, as is the article discussed here.
The word of God makes it clear God does intervene in History, but it makes it clear that it is never how you think it will be. Modern evangelicals look primarily to personal (and usually emotional) intervention of God. Is that wrong too? If God doesn't intervene in History he certainly wouldn't intervene in Individuals lives? The reality is God intevene's in both, but unless you are specially choosen by God [ gifted as Paul would say] to be prophet (and you can tell because of the severe reluctance) you can not look at situations and judge them. Most people look at History through a preconcieved Ideology. Ideology's are the curtains in the temple...
Eddie, that's really interesting. Thanks for providing a non-American perspective.<br><br>Obviously the American "empire" is a lot different than the British one. But I wonder when we'll start seeing a similar disillusionment regarding America's supposed "special status." I think it'll be soon, and wonder if it hasn't begun already.
"God bless America" is a fine thing to pray for, but it is not an entitlement program.
I read the book for a school project. It was a great read and I wished I had time to read the whole thing!!
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