Alien witness

How God's people challenge empire
For complex historical and religious reasons,Americans have found it easy to view the U.S. as the “new Israel,” the carrier of God’s mandates in the world. This view has led to an expansive notion of the nation’s “manifest destiny” and to all manner of initiatives under the general rubric of America’s exceptional character and mission.

A close reading of the Bible might suggest that the U.S., rather than being “God’s Israel” in the world, occupies the biblical role of empire, whether that of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon or Persia. If we entertain that connection, then we may also entertain the idea that God’s people in the U.S. are assigned the role that is played in the Old Testament by ancient Israel, the role of being critically engaged with the empire without forgetting or compromising its own distinct identity.

 

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