The Scarlet Thread in American Exceptionalism

Matthew 5:14-16 You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I was recently on vacation and during my morning readings I was reminded how deeply early America was rooted in their faith and reliance on God!  I only know of one time where God reached out to man for form a nation (Israel), and one time where man reached out to God to form a nation (The United States).  Here is why I think this . . .

A scarlet thread refers to a covenant of God with a people.  On November 11, 1620 the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact as a sovereign commitment to God and themselves to unite and create civil body and create just laws under a replica of the Israelite covenant with God.  It was not just the Mayflower Compact, but the Rhode Island Charter of 1683, the first state constitutions, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation.  American Constitutionalism really developed out of the ”extreme” views of the Protestant interpretations of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  For nearly 300 years this scarlet thread of Christianity was strongly embedded in most original and Founding documents in America.   

In 1831 – 1834, Alexis de Tocqueville traveled to and documented his experiences in America in his two-volume set called Democracy in America.  His findings, originally written in French, stated that the chief political force in America is simply Christianity, the scarlet thread in America.  He said what makes America is traveling through all the small towns and seeing their faith, their religion, and their Christian mission to take care of the poor and do life according to the Bible.  He clearly lays this out as the main theme in American growth and American exceptionalism.  He believed this scarlet thread to be the key to the strength of the new American nation. 

America is one of 193 nations (2020) on planet earth, and we have lived under our Constitution for 237 years now.  This is very unusual.  In that same time frame France has had 15 Constitutions, Haiti has had 23, Brazil has lived under 8, and Ecuador has lived under 20.  The average nation changes constitutions every 17 years.  We are, by far, the most stable nation in the world.    Most nations also average a violent revolution every generation, we do not!

As it relates to creativity know that America has 4% of the population, however we have produced 96% of the world’s creativity in symphonies and plays, in medical technology, cures, scientific inventions, and technology innovations.  Our infrastructure as it relates to banking and finance, Internet and technology, travel, and productivity in wealth building is 2nd to none.

Tocqueville called all this EXCEPTIONAL! We are the exception not the rule, it’s not a point of pride but a point of humility to God’s blessings through us to the world.  A great read on this and how it relates to our founding is a book called The Origins of the American Constitutionalism by Dr. Donald Lutz of the University of Houston.  Lutz shares a study of the Founding Fathers in his research and how 34% of the political literature from the Founders had heavy relationship to the Christian Bible.  Lutz cited 1,100 references directly derived from the Bible, and stated that the four “secular” authors most quoted by our Founders were Montesquieu (8.9%), Blackstone (7.9%), Locke (2.9%), and David Hume (2.7%).  Further research will tell you that Montesquieu, Blackstone, and Locke all recognized natural laws as originating from God and believed Divine Law originated from the Bible.  What does all this mean?

The peak of Biblical citizenship in America was in the 1770s.  About 80% of all published “political writings” published during that decade were reprinted sermons.  And many of the other writings published were authors who recognized God as creator!  So nearly all literate floating around during the Founding Era was based on Biblical themes and scriptures.  Again, the scarlet thread is rooted deep into the Founding of America and the resulting American Exceptionalism that still exists today.   

We must know American history and understand American Exceptionalism.  We must learn the good, as well as the bad and the ugly.  But I am one that will keep my focus on the good!  Let’s not make the same mistakes as other nations, we have made a covenant with God and the scarlet thread still survives in America!

Love the Truth, Find the Truth, and Defend the Truth! Rise up Church, and use your heart and mind to feel, locate, and speak the Truth!

Further Resources:

America’s Forgotten History

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