Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Redeemer Nation

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Just one verse of perhaps the most stream-of-consciousness-what-it-means-to-follow-Christ passages offered straight from the-Son-of-God’s lips to man’s ears.

This thought was foundational to the birth of the American colonies (I have edited the text for easier reading):

…for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our god in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors for God’s sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into Curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whether we are going…

Unfortunately, America has taken to the form of only one tidbit from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, and none of the substance.  In any case, who is John Winthrop?

John Winthrop (12 January 1587/88 – 26 March 1649) was an English Puritan lawyer and one of the leading figures in founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the second major settlement in New England, following Plymouth Colony. Winthrop led the first large wave of immigrants from England in 1630 and served as governor for 12 of the colony's first 20 years. His writings and vision of the colony as a Puritan "city upon a hill" dominated New England colonial development, influencing the governments and religions of neighboring colonies.

Over the course of several months, I have listened to a series of interviews of Michael Vlahos by John Batchelor; Vlahos speaks of this idea of the United States as the redeemer nation.  Who is Michael Vlahos?

Michael Vlahos, PhD, has taught in the Global Security Studies program at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Arts and Sciences since 2011. He is a professor in the Strategy and Policy Department at the US Naval War College, a position he has held since 2010.

A recent interview of Vlahos by Batchelor offers an excellent summary of Vlahos’ view.  I find his arguments to be compelling.  I will offer only a few brief snippets here.  As there is no transcript, what I offer is not an attempt to capture his words – more like a summary; I suggest listening to the entire interview, it will take less than 20 minutes of your time.

Key points include:

The United States has always held onto the narrative of the redeemer nation; the story Americans tell themselves about the purpose of their nation.

Certainly since the end of World War Two it has taken on this role internationally – after a failed attempt by Woodrow Wilson to do the same after the Great War.  Harry Truman is the one who successfully implemented this global role, as the indispensable nation.  He successfully turned the religious mission of World War Two into a narrative that continued through the Cold War.

The narrative has existed from the beginning; it has only evolved and increased, but it has never changed.  America is God’s hand in world affairs.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States has gradually been losing this narrative.  America’s narrative of completing God’s mission was achieved.  George H.W. Bush offered a coda, a ceremonial war against Iraq, as demonstrating America’s achievement.

There are now competing narratives – both within and outside of the United States.  Actual people in actual places have become restless.

The narrative power has been lost; the narrative is being pushed by others: China, Russia, Muslims, even Europeans…but not Americans.

Does America drift for a while, or do we accept that we are no longer exceptional?  For the US to cease to see itself as something exceptional will take something like what Japan and Germany realized in World War Two.

A concrete example is happening now in the South China Sea: as America is challenged, there is no story about what the US needs to do.  There is no longer a narrative that allows the US to intervene.

As an aside, Vlahos points to Japan’s aggressions in China in the early 1930s; Japan acted with US support to have an army in China.  (I have commented on this history in the past.)


Let’s hope Vlahos is wrong about America not going down quietly.  Observation tells me, unfortunately, that my hope is misplaced.


  1. I'd caution against concluding that even at its founding this was ever one monolithic nation/culture. The book referenced here is excellent:

    1. I do not intend to imply that every individual believed (or believes) in this mission. Yet, it seems clear that this mission has had continuity and in many ways has carried the day.

    2. Woodard argues that continuity is a feature of this. Except, there are 10 that continue. Whether the Yankee view carries the day and overpowers the others is a key question. The book, and his follow-up, flesh it out further.

  2. The founders were wrong.

    The Church is the city and belivers are to be the light, through the preaching of the Gospel. Christ gave no authority to transfer our call to Ceasar.

    Looking back, the idea that these uSA are a City On A Hill is straight out of Hell - from being an example it went to Empire.

    It is a good thing these uSA cannot challenge China in South Sea. Look China, the relevant body of water and these uSA on a globe.

    What business of ours is it?

    Maybe these uSA are The Revived Roman Empire.

  3. The Redeemer Nation claims Exceptionalism for itself. This means double standards. Exceptionalism establishes one (ever changing) code of morality for the One Indispensable Nation and another for everybody else. The Redeemer Nation kills that men might be set free.

    The Christian Redeemer upheld a single moral code. This means universality is the hallmark of morality. He died that men might be set free.

  4. "Americans who think America should behave like other countries are ‘isolationists,’ whereas other countries that behave like the U.S. are ‘rogue nations.’"

    ~Joseph Sobran

  5. America like old England WAS exceptional when we sent Christian MISSIONARIES to far away lands to PREACH THE GOSPEL to other nations; NOT our secular culture nor military.

    Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) and the Cambridge Seven left England and brought the King James Bible to China and founded the Body of Christ among Shem's grandchildren that still persists to this day. THAT is the legacy Americans should be leaving all over the earth, but we HATE Christ. We believe His authority and reign is illegitimate and irrelevant. If Jesus has a problem with our sin then it's His problem. He has no right to judge anything without Humanity's complete consensus and if so much as one human disagrees with His judgement then He's out of luck.

    I can't wait until He hammers the USA and the sea of carnal Christians that open encourage others to love their sin and give God the middle finger.

    Romans 1:25-32
    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

  6. The best book on the subject I have ever found is Yankee Babylon: American Dream. American Nightmare by MacDonald King Aston

  7. Needless to say, there idea of the redeemer nation is heresy and disgusting. The American empire must be destroyed. Only in the destruction of the American empire will national salvation be achieved.

    Our roots. Stolen.
    Maybe we should return.