A few weeks ago, I identified Americanism as one of the idols we must avoid as American Christians. This is particularly important in our current election year if we are to keep our heads screwed on straight. In that sermon I said it was dangerous to apply Christ's "city on a hill" metaphor to America.
In a recent interview about his book In Search of the City on a Hill, Hillsdale College professor Richard Gamble, with far more historical expertise than I, expressed exactly the same concerns.
I'm troubled by just how secularized the 'city on a hill' metaphor has become. I think it has become so closely identified with the American nation and with the American sense of mission that it...is at risk of losing all of its identification with the church. This was a test case for me of showing how biblical language can become radically secularized and politicized....I'd like to see Christians who read this book pause and think a little more carefully about what happens to the identity of the church when America, or any nation state, takes on even part of that identity....But the church has ultimately lost something by surrendering that city on a hill identity, and it leads to a profound confusion between the city of God and the city of man, between the work of the church and the work of the state.
I truly believe that the gospel will not make good progress in this nation if we don't make clear that it means turning to God from idols to serve the living and true God. May God help the churches of this nation to reclaim our God-given identity.
Again, you can listen to the entire interview here.