July 3, 2019

COVENANT THEOLOGY:

America, Born of the Hebrew Bible: A new book makes the case that the American worldview has always been rooted in the Five Books of Moses (Liel Leibovitz, July 3, 2019, The Tablet)

America, G.K. Chesterton once observed, was "a nation with the soul of a church." Make that a shul: As Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land, a powerful new book, argues, "the American Republic was born to the music of the Hebrew Bible."

Its editors--Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik, Matthew Holbreich, Jonathan Silver, and Stuart W. Halpern, of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University--make their case, in the fine tradition of our wise forefathers, by laying before us scroll after scroll of source material, showing us the Biblical thread that binds everything from the Mayflower Compact to Lincoln's second inaugural address.

Clarified by the editors' illuminating introductions, these historical documents make a strong case for just how firmly our republic was always rooted in the fertile theological soil of the Hebrew bible. Rather than the transactional spirit of John Locke, who they preceded, the pilgrims were moved by a deeper, wilder spirit. Here, we see them speaking not of social contracts--a shaky base, that, for something as unearthly as a nation--but of covenants, the newcomers to America understanding themselves to be the latest in a human chain that began with Noah and Abraham and that owes its existence to its Creator and His will.

Thus thunders John Winthrop, in 1630, that "we are entered into covenant with Him for this work... The Lord will be our God and delight in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness, and truth than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when He shall make us a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations, the Lord make it like that of New England." It's a model of a covenantal political community taken straight from the prophet Micah, who reminded us that "it hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord doth require of thee: Only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

Actually, Man's covenants with God are, likewise, transactional. Contract theory is just biblical covenanting in drabber dress.  

Posted by at July 3, 2019 12:35 PM

  

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