|I was called in late 1990 to pastor and teach in Northern New Jersey|
In the early 1990s I had two crucial calls on my life: service as the
head of my own family and service as pastor of a small Presbyterian
congregation in Northern New Jersey. Being ever the teacher, I was
moved most significantly by a desire to pass on what years of study had
shown me were missing from our own American culture: a profound
appreciation of the role of God in shaping our nation and
civilization. Keenly aware of how far our American culture had drifted
into secularism (I myself had lived in that mode for over 20 years), I
wanted my children to be raised with a higher sense of things in life,
of the role of God in shaping them and their world. This was exactly
what I wanted my congregation to be aware of as well – particularly as
I felt that my highest responsibility to them and to God was to prepare
them to be vibrant, living witnesses to God in a godless age.|
But this task was not any easy one because there existed very
little material that would back up what I was attempting to teach. So
I began by laying out the material myself.
With respect to teaching my congregations, my approach was to get
them to understand how they were the most recent chapter of a story
involving a long line of witnesses that had gone before them in
presenting the higher truth of God in Jesus Christ. Like themselves
today, these forerunners had to conduct this task in the midst of a
world caught up in the offerings and difficulties of the material world
around them. It was my hope that by learning more about how others
before them met this challenge we could perhaps discover deeper
direction for ourselves for the same task.
Indeed, in the retelling of this old, old story, these modern-day
saints began to see themselves in a new light: they began to
understand how they too were part of God's story; in their own time
today, they too were key instruments of his divine design here on
earth. It was as much up to them in this day and age as it was to the
heroes of scripture in their days to live out God's divine assignment.
They were to be spiritual leaders, helping to lead others to the light
of divine guidance.
Man's special place in Creation
appreciate very much Man's power, the good works he is able to do – if
his heart is right. But even back in my secular days I realized that
Man's moral logic was highly problematic. Man seemed as often an angel
of death and destruction as an angel of life and goodness. In all my
years of political, social or cultural analysis some key component had
always seemed missing in computing the moral design of life. Man
himself was not a sufficient explanation with regards to the positive
and negative directions life has taken on this planet over the
centuries. In discovering – or rediscovering – God in my later years,
I came finally to understand what this key component was.|
First of all, apart from God's guidance from his position in
Creation, human life – or life of any kind – is an impossibility.
Einstein's theory of relativity and the theories of quantum physics
helped get me started down the right track to understand the dynamic of
life in a new, post-Newtonian or post-mechanistic way.
Life is built on relationship – and all relationship begins with
God. Through God's will, his design, his word (his Logos), all
creation has its being as it responds to him. God is the initiator and
sustainer of all that is and ever will be.
Second of all, we humans, like everything else in creation, exist
in response to his work. But quite unlike anything else in creation,
we have been given intellectual or spiritual powers not unlike God's.
Within the full scope of a huge creation, we humans on this tiny planet
are endowed with the incredible ability not to merely exist, but to
affirm (or reject) the divine dynamic. We are more than the rocks and
ice, the heat and light, even the trees and animals of God's creation.
We are a privileged specie created by God to join with him in giving
life to all creation by our interaction with it. We are like some kind
of an audience privileged with the power to appreciate, enjoy,
celebrate God's great creation.
To make this power fully valid, we have also the power to reject
this option. Our spiritual freedom makes the decision to join with God
in working with and celebrating Creation fully our own, dignifying us
as a very special part of Creation. But our freedom means also the
ability to reject this whole idea. But in doing so we diminish
ourselves as living beings, becoming merely part of the mechanical
portion of existence.
do we choose? Usually poorly. Human pride or arrogance is the hurdle
that we have to overcome. Just as God is the positive pole in
creation, there is some kind of Adversary who constitutes the negative
pole – at least with respect to human choice. We commonly call this
negative force Satan, the Devil, the Tempter, the Deceiver, the
Adversary, the Serpent, etc. His job is to enter our thoughts and
logic to draw us into making the choice that leads us from God, from
life. His existence in creation is what gives full meaning to our
human freedom: the full freedom to reject as well as to affirm life.
God's Covenant with America
I began to understand this dynamic I began to wonder how it ever was
that we humans made the right choice. Pride and arrogance seem so
fundamental to human life. What chance did we on our own have of ever
making the right decision?|
What I began to understand in reviewing the long story of God and
his relationship with Man is that God alone keeps things on track –
normally by setting aside for himself a special people who, in covenant
with him, he works with more directly in keeping the light of divine
understanding alive, so that through them the rest of the world might
always have that light serving as a beacon directing them to God and
his divine enterprise.
God made such a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, a
covenant carried forward through Moses, David and the Jewish prophets
of old. That covenant was fine-tuned in Jesus and continued forward in
time through his followers in the church.
God's very grace has kept that covenant alive, helping certain people stay on track with God as a service to all of mankind.
The covenant still exists today – perhaps in more than one form or
in the hands of more than one people. But certainly, that covenant was
extended to the founding fathers of America, in particular the Puritan
founders of New England who very self-consciously observed just such a
covenant relationship with God. In the early 1600s they founded their
new settlement on the principle of being a covenant community in
service to God, pledging themselves (and their descendants) to be a
"city on a hill," a "light to the nations." They intended that in
America a covenant people would live to bring the rest of the world to
Clearly, by the sign of the multitude of miracles that accompanied
the birth and growth of this new covenant nation, God has faithfully
continued to respect this covenant (though we have ourselves not always
been so faithful in the keeping of the covenant). Time after time, in
respect of this covenant, God has brought spiritual renewal among us –
usually in preparation for some great work (often a war) he was calling
the nation to undertake.
And so we come to our present day and time. How are we doing with respect to the covenant? Not well.
But – that's how I see my call. To help awaken America to this
fundamental reality. To put Americans of today back into "the story."
Putting the story on the Web
in 1993 I decided to begin putting this story on the web. The primary
focus has been "Western history" or the story of God and the people of
Christian Europe and America, since from even the beginning of Western
Civilization. I added a huge biographical section in the later 1990s –
and I have been adding material ever since then.