A history major in college, I always felt a bit short-changed by the system, or more specifically, by many of my history professors. They either passed over very quickly the role of religion in American history or ignored it altogether. Why is this a problem?
Imagine teaching the history of India but ignoring Hinduism. Can one teach the history of Pakistan without referring to the impact of Islam? Can we understand the history of China without appreciating the role of Confucianism or Buddhism? You get the picture.
Minimizing or removing the influence of Christianity from American history not only reflects a certain bias, it distorts that history.
Catharine C. Cleveland in her 1916 publication, The Great Revival in the West 1797-1805, called attention to the fact that the “influence of revival…is an important consideration to the student of United States history….” Would that my professors had gotten this point.
Those of us who know something of the role of Christian revivals in American history have hope for these United States. Our hope is that they will continue to occur and bring us back to where we ought to be as a nation. We certainly want to reverse our moral decline, recently exemplified in our 2008 economic crisis brought on by pure greed.
It’s not that revival can wipe out greed or any other sin, but it can temper it. Revival does not need to convert or spiritually renew everyone to create a catalyst for doing what is right and true and good. It is like the critical mass needed for a sustained nuclear reaction. The Spirit of God only has to create a passion for honesty, truthfulness, compassion, etc., among a certain percentage in order to impact the whole, like salt.