A Theological Interpretation of American History

Posted: November 10, 2008 by joelmartin in Politics, Theology
Tags: , , ,

There’s currently a lot of talk in conservative circles about what is wrong with the movement and how we have arrived at this fearful destination in the history of our country. It seems to me that in order to figure out where we are now, we first need to determine how we got here. One book that is useful for making that determination that I suggest any thinking Christian read  is A Theological Interpretation of American History  by the late C. Gregg Singer.


If I can muster enough persistence, I would like to briefly summarize Mr. Singer’s take on American history in the hope that you, faithful reader, will purchase the book and read it for yourself.
At the outset of the book, Singer writes that “it is impossible to understand completely the history of a nation apart from the philosophies and the theologies which lie at the heart of its intellectual life.” Having said this, Singer reviews several Marxist and materialist approaches to American history which interpret via the lens of economics or politics with no regard to theological realities. He rejects these approaches, and says:

But this attempt to interpret our history in terms of this philosophy is quite unsatisfactory at certain points, for it fails to answer certain basic questions: why did Jefferson look to Locke and the other philosophers of democracy rather than to the Puritan political heritage, and why did the Founding Fathers of 1787, in turn, take such elaborate precautions to set up a form of government which would guard against the rise of democracy? A third question which has also largely been ignored concerns a closely related problem: why has the Constitution been increasingly used to promote this same democratic form of government which it was designed to prevent from gaining a foothold in the new nation?

These questions are provocative and sound heretical to our modern American ears. But it is a measure of how far we have fallen that someone who questions democracy on the basis of our founding sounds a bit lunatic, rather than sounding like a faithful transmitter of tradition. 

I hope to summarize more soon.
  1. interesting thoughts…Mimi and I were just yesterday talking about how we are a republic and not a democracy, and why a republic should be better. praying for God’s kingdom….and our earthly kingdom.

  2. joelmartin says:

    Yes, when you think about it our nation used to have Senators appointed by the States (not elected), voters had to own property, etc. The electoral college is one of the few remnants of that system and the Democrats wanted to toss it after 2000. The country is evolving in an unfortunate direction.

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