Restoring the Soul of America Pt. 2

(Preaching Outline)

1)      The idea of a nation having a soul like a person.

a)      Luke 11:33–36 (NKJV) — 33 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. 34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”

b)     I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and in her ample rivers, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her fertile fields and boundless forests, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her public school system and her institutions of learning, and it was not there. I sought for the genius and greatness of America in her democratic congress and her matchless constitution, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. – Alexis de Tocqueville[1]

2)      “Remember” – memory is the key to identity.

a)      (Rabbi Sacks) – Identity is not just a matter of who my parents were. It is also a matter of what they remembered and handed on to me. Personal identity is shaped by individual memory. Group identity is formed by collective memory.7 The mere act of telling the story, regularly, as a religious duty, sustained Jewish identity across the centuries, even in the absence of all the normal accompaniments of nationhood – land, geographical proximity, independence, self-determination – and never allowed the people to forget its ideals, its aspirations, its collective project of building a society that would be the opposite of Egypt, a place of freedom and justice and human dignity, in which no human being is sovereign, where God alone is king.[2]

b)     Exodus 20:1–2 (NKJV) — 1 And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

c)      Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (NKJV) — 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

d)     (Rabbi Sacks) – You can delegate history to computers, looking it up when you need it. But you cannot delegate memory. Memory is inherently, inescapably personal. It is what makes us who we are. If you seek to sustain identity, you have to renew memory regularly and teach it to the next generation. That is what Moses taught the Israelites, and what we have done ever since.[3]

e)      Abraham Lincoln – We are a nation formed by a covenant, by dedication to a set of principles and by an exchange of promises to uphold and advance certain commitments among ourselves and throughout the world. Those principles and commitments are the core of American identity, the soul of the body politic. They make the American nation unique, and uniquely valuable, among and to the other nations. But the other side of the conception contains a warning very like the warnings spoken by the prophets to Israel: if we fail in our promises to each other, and lose the principles of the covenant, then we lose everything, for they are we.[4]

f)        Last week we discussed the core theology that our founders, even those considered the most secular, built our nation upon.

g)      (Alexis de Tocqueville) – In New England, every citizen receives the elementary notions of human knowledge; he is moreover taught the doctrines and the evidences of his religion, the history of his country, and the leading features of its Constitution. In the States of Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is extremely rare to find a man imperfectly acquainted with all these things, and a person wholly ignorant of them is a sort of phenomenon.[5]

h)      In 1787, the very year the Constitution was written and approved by Congress, that same Congress passed the famous Northwest Ordinance. In it they emphasized the essential need to teach religion and morality in the schools. Here is the way they said it: “Article 3: Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”[6]

3)      If we are going to restore the soul of America we need to know what is at the heart of it:

a)       John Winthrop Dreams of a City on a Hill, 1630 – The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways… We shall find that the God of Israel is among us…He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “may the Lord make it like that of New England.” For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake… And to shut this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30. “Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil,” … Therefore let us choose life, that we and our seed may live, by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity.

b)     His warnings:

i)        Shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity

ii)      But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them.

c)      We need to remember!


[1] Mark Water, The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations (Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd, 2000), 35–36. 

[3] Sacks, Jonathan. Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant (Covenant & Conversation Book 5) (p. 186). The Toby Press. Kindle Edition.

[4] Sacks, Jonathan. Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant (Covenant & Conversation Book 5) (p. 59). The Toby Press. Kindle Edition.

[5] de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America volume 1 (annotated) . Kindle Edition.

[6] Skousen, W. Cleon. The Five Thousand Year Leap (p. 90). Verity Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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