The Purpose of America
Did God have a special purpose in America, causing this nation to be blessed beyond measure?
If God is God and is purposeful and not capricious, as we know from the Scriptures, then He has purposes for nations as well as individuals.
To discover this purpose, it would be good to revisit the stated goals of our very first permanent settlements, in Virginia in 1607, and then at Plymouth in 1620.
The goals of the Virginia Company, chartered by King James, was stated in "A True and Sincere Declaration of the Purpose and Ends of the Plantation Begun in Virginia." It stated "The principal and main ends… were first to preach and baptize into the Christian religion, and by propagation of the gospel, to recover out of the arms of the devil, a number of poor and miserable souls, wrapped up unto death… and to endeavor the fulfilling, and accomplishment of the number of the elect, which shall be gathered from out of all corners of the earth…"
These first permanent settlers in America landed on the coast of Virginia. Their first act was to plant a cross at Cape Henry, at what is now Virginia Beach, and dedicate the new continent to God Almighty.
A few years later, in 1620, the settlers at Plymouth made a covenant with God and themselves, then established their new government that acknowledged God's sovereignty and honored Him. Before the Plymouth settlers even came ashore in 1620, they made a covenant with themselves and God called the "Mayflower Compact." It began "In the name of God…Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith… "
The pervasive Christian influence of our Founding Fathers and in our Constitution is well-documented.
In a speech on July 4, 1837, the 61st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, John Quincy Adams proclaimed "Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth?"
Former Librarian of Congress and renowned historian Daniel Boorstin writes that early Americans believed the victories and miraculous growth of our nation were for a greater purpose "From the beginning, Americans had been unwilling to believe that their emigration, their expansion, their diplomacy, and their wars had no high purpose, and they commonly defined that purpose as a ‘mission.’"
Even Herman Melville, the American novelist who was no great friend of Christians, compared the American experience with that of the Israelites in Scripture. In 1850, Melville wrote "We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people -- the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world."
This is our high purpose -- to bring liberty, hope, and renewal to those lost in sin. In her infancy, America entered into a covenant with God to extend the light of Christ’s love to the world, to become, as John Winthrop said, "a shining city on a hill." As the New England Confederation proclaimed in 1643 "We all came to these parts of America with the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Having experienced God’s guidance and protection, our forefathers were entrusted with the responsibility to tell what God had done and share His great blessings with others.
When we consider the nation we have become over the last 500 years, the plan and purpose of God for America becomes apparent. Nineteenth-century historian Charles Bancroft recognized that America was destined to exert great influence "America, then, will colonize ideas extensively when her institutions are thoroughly matured. The process indeed commenced with her birth, and her spirit sails with her ships in every sea and visits all lands."
Bancroft was not saying that America would one day hold colonies as Britain did, but that our ideas would be carried by our people to every nation on earth. Political leaders in America may desire to influence other nations to change from dictatorial to democratic forms of government. While this is a worthy goal, it is not our main objective. Our most important influence has been in exporting, not just material wealth and political wisdom, but the gospel of Jesus Christ. The United States of America has been the greatest missionary sending nation in history. It has been estimated that today that the U.S. supplies 85 percent of all resources spent in the world on evangelistic missions.
Of all the good we have done, this is the greatest. In this way, our blessings do not just benefit us, but also those who receive the gospel message. Also, wherever in the world this gospel has been taken, the missionaries and indigenous Christian workers have brought hospitals, schools and orphanages which would have never otherwise existed.
A goal of world evangelization, however, does not mean that we attempt to force our beliefs on others through colonization or empire building. Instead, out of deep gratitude to God, we share His love and compassion, which helped us build our own country. Every culture and people group in the world is valuable, and our responsibility is to share God’s Word with them and encourage them to serve God according to the guidelines of His holy Word -- within their own culture.
Of course, not every American shares that vision, and not every American is a Bible-believing Christian. But with America, God created a framework with resources and liberty within which His people can work to help fulfill the Great Commission in the world. Because of the love for Christ and concern for others, American Christians share the message of God’s free gift of salvation with all people, regardless of who they are or where they live.
That has been God’s purpose for America.
In spite of the great, co-existing evil in the nation, that purpose will continue until God decides the time is up and the anointing and calling have expired, and not before then. According to the many signs, that time may be near.
But at this writing, thousands of churches, hundreds of missions agencies, and hundreds of thousands of committed men and women, who are sold out to Christ and who have laid their lives on the line, are on the mission field helping to fulfill the Great Commission, as the founders foresaw almost 400 years ago.