American patriotism, I would argue, is not as simple as most. Unlike most countries, our patriotism is not based primarily on ethnicity or shared lands or history or even culture, but on ideas and ideals, much of which was informed and under-girded by Christianity and less secularized enlightenment ideas as compared to Europe. 1
As an American Christian, I bristle a little when international Christians unfavorably point the accusing finger at us as if our patriotism is as unbiblical an allegiance as theirs. While Christians should be critical of their country when it leaves biblical ideals, and should be citizens of God’s kingdom first, Americans have a somewhat justified conviction that God prepared and raised up the US as part of his plans to spread the gospel, and that providential favor has been upon us. As some of our founders wrote:
â€œI always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.â€ – John Adams
I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament. – Benjamin Rush
Of course, many feel that we have lost God’s favor, perhaps irreparably due to our current ungodliness.
But my point is, American patriotism is not the simple jingoism of most other nations, it’s a commitment to ideals which are largely, though not entirely consistent with Christian faith.
John Adams, our second president, wrote many famous passages to this end, which I conclude with:
The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.
The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.