by Marshall Foster
Americans are known around the world for their “can do” spirit. They are loved and hated for it. When the English and French needed us to rise up and defeat the Nazi juggernaut, we did. When the Soviet Union threatened the world with nuclear holocaust and communist domination, Ronald Reagan faced off with the “evil empire.” Reagan declared America’s strategy, as he stared down 10,000 missile warheads. He said, “We win; they lose.” And in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and with it the Soviet Empire.
This bravado of victory has been observed for centuries about the American character. How could a nation, birthed in an untamed wilderness, just 400 years ago, rise to such heights? It was a miracle. But with innumerable histories written about the American phenomena, few have focused upon the fundamental reason for the American success story.
There is a secret behind our incredible drive to cultural victory. The immigrants to these shores shared a common vision of ultimate victory, if not a common ancestry. Our first settlers were driven here by a sense of destiny as they crossed the ocean exactly 400 years ago to Jamestown, and to Plymouth soon afterwards. The Pilgrims, according to their governor, William Bradford, believed they would light the entire nation of England through their single candle in the wilderness. Our forefathers had a winning formula that encouraged them to form communities, and create out of whole cloth the miracle of limited constitutional government.
Few observers have doubted that American optimism was a fundamental reason for our success. But most pundits, beginning in the 19th Century, have glossed over the real reason for our drive to succeed. They have often mislabeled America’s success story, saying that it was built upon a cocky “manifest destiny” or a misplaced “civil religion” that wrapped the cross in the flag or an inherent rugged individualism. Time magazine in November of this year (2006) had a cover picture with a cross wrapped in a flag and a story driving a wedge among evangelicals to get them to disengage from the political process.
We must expose these lies and half-truths. The heritage of victory, ingrained in the vast majority of our settlers was a deeply held theology concerning the sovereignty of God and His victorious plan for His world. This theology of victory came from the unleashing of the Word of God into the hands of the people in 16th Century Europe. It had been hewn from the hardwood of persecution under the tyranny of the “divine right” kings of Europe. It was then passed down faithfully from generation to generation.
For America’s first three centuries, every morning at breakfast the secret of victory was carefully studied in morning devotions. It would be recited in the lessons and through the classic literature at school. It was expounded with conviction and proved with science and history from nearly every pulpit every Sunday. And holidays (“holy days”) were set aside to remember and celebrate the momentous landmarks of victories won and to anticipate the battles ahead.
Every week, virtually all Americans, including its political leaders, would acknowledge the strategy of victory. They were taught to choose sides with the Winner and rest under His shield, and then ride with Him on the inevitable wave of history. They knew that covenant keepers win, covenant breakers lose. That God trumps the devil. That His truth and His people always win in the long run, because He rules the wave of history and directs it for His purposes. And that all others are fighting against the “tide that waits for no man.” In our generation, there has been a relentless attack on the foundation of America’s success story. Instead of continuing to teach faith in the God of the Bible, who is the shield and hope for any nation that will trust Him, Americans have been taught that our civilization is a secular one, and that our religion should be kept in the closet. Colonial Americans would have mocked such a notion, but sixty years of revisionist history have expunged from the minds of the people the central reason for their prosperity: the favor of Almighty God.
It is no coincidence that the unbelieving baby boomers’ generation trashed America’s institutions in the 1960’s. With the failure of our leaders, our educators and our churches to scientifically and historically defend the unstoppable strategy of God, the youth saw no foundation for our “tradition bound” institutions. Why fight? Why not have illicit sex? Why not do drugs? Why go to church? Faith in the future and faith in God’s ability to use them to give hope in an age of nuclear terror was shattered. To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, the anti-Christian philosopher, happiness, in this new world of the survival of the fittest, must be dug out of the dunghill of despair in an impersonal universe.
But as we begin 2007, the real “good news” of the unstoppable kingdom of God is spreading from house to house in America’s heartland. The greatest evangelistic explosion in history has rocked the world since 1950. Almost one third of the world’s population declares their faith in Jesus Christ. And as the truth of God’s Word permeates these lives, they are coming to realize that they are “more than conquerors through Christ” and are always “led in triumph” by Him.
We need to be patient as the defeatism of post-modern nihilism lingers like bad medicine in the lives of many believers. Many of my close friends have seen their vision of victory explode in recent years. They are not just biding time awaiting Christ’s return (although we always joyfully anticipate it). They are working to rebuild Christian civilization by God’s grace and for their childrens’ children. One leader in Hollywood is seeing a new motion picture and TV industry arise that will transform the visual arts into a vehicle for godly living. Another friend in Seattle, along with thousands of believers, has started a Christian political party, firmly adhering to biblical principles of government that shame the existing parties. Another is planning a new university system based on biblical principles. Many committed families are living within the godly success principles of family and financial blessing.
This covenantal faithfulness to God, over time, will inevitably lead us to victory. Our victory is not for America primarily, but for His Kingdom. But as our founders clearly understood, as the Kingdom advances in America, the country receives God’s favor. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
From the Mayflower Institute Journal, January 2007 Issue
Used by permission © 2010