United States History

What should we say about the United States of America? So much has already been said, adding our two cents is a bit redundant or presumptuous, depending on your perspective. Certainly, no one needs us to outline the facts, the major events and figures, or to describe our unique written Constitution and democratic-republican system.

We can offer a bit of perspective. It's nothing new, nothing we came up with on our own, but it is different from a lot of the prevailing notions about both history in general and our nation in particular.

For starters, there's no specific reference to the U.S. in the Bible. The principles found in God's Word that apply to all nations certainly apply to the United States as well, but we aren't a Christian nation, we don't hold a special place in biblical prophecy, and Manifest Destiny is the result of Enlightenment rationalist views about the Progress of Mankind rather than being rooted in any kind of Christian attitude.

That said, many of the first settlers of the New World were dedicated Christians seeking the right to worship God without the constraints of political entanglement or government-imposed strictures and doctrine. The Pilgrims came in 1620, just 13 years after the first successful English settlement at Jamestown, and the Puritan settlers followed soon after.

Their arrivals and colonization didn't make America Christian, of course. It was a broad continent, largely unknown, and the initial colonies weren't strictly bound together at first, as they were later to become. By that time, things had become substantially more secular, so that by the 18th century many Americans were just as degenerate as their European counterparts. Fortunately, men like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield were around to preach the true Gospel, and to initiate a revival known as the Great Awakening.

Secular forces were still at work, though. While there were definitely many Christians involved, the American Revolution was largely the result of Enlightenment philosophizing, and men were convinced that America could produce a virtuous and stable population if education and participatory government were enforced. So they rebelled against England, and the United States republic was formed.

Ever since, groups and individuals have tried to call Americans back to their Christian roots. That's the wrong strategy: we don't need to call anyone back to anything, we need to point the way forward to the pursuit of Christ and the bringing of His Gospel and glory to every corner of the earth no matter what our country of origin. That America has been so materially blessed simply means we have more options at our disposal for proclaiming and bringing the Word to the rest of the world.

Our study of United States history is consequently Christ-centered. Not because we think America is more Christian than other countries, but because it (like all other nations) is under Christ's control as King of Heaven and Lord of Time. Of course, you shouldn't abandon study of the facts, people and events, but they only attain true meaning when viewed through the lens of Christ's ultimate plan of redemption and self-glorification.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

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from Dover Publications
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