The Huffington Post makes the blunt suggestion that Moses has been more important to American History than Jesus. I am wondering what my American friends think of this? Cause, well, with the popularity of dispensationalist Christianity and manifest destiny over there, I gotta say, from this side of the pond the suggestion holds some resonance. So, is Moses the American prophet?
4 thoughts on “Moses has been more important to American history than Jesus?”
Let’s see how long he can hold that gun in the air…
Interesting article. I think the author raises some important points, and I think the claim makes sense from a historical perspective. From a modern day perspective, I’m not so sure. After all, Moses was about freedom from oppression. Too many American conservative Christians don’t seem to be all that interested in freedom from oppression — at least least not for anyone but themselves.
In some ways, it reminds me of an article I read back in college. My Old Testament class was studying liberation theology, and this particular article was about why liberation theology didn’t seem to catch on amongst Native American’s. The author noted that one major factor was that when the Native American’s found it easier to identify with the Canaanites conquered by the Israelites than identifying with the Israelites enslaved by pharaoh. In that sense, I think they have a point. I think American Christians in question identify with Joshua the conqueror more than Moses the liberator of the oppressed.
That and I think they ultimately love and identify with their image of the person Fred Clarke has come to “Robo-Jesus,” the great warlord and winner (can I say “butcher” and not get into too much trouble?) of dispensationalist Armageddon.
Dan Hawk, Professor of Old Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio has made similar claims. This is an excerpt from an essay posted on the Postcolonial Theology Network (PTN):
“Anglo-Americans (and I write as one) have been quick to look to the Bible for metaphors and motifs to define and legitimate national identity and mission, we have assiduously avoided the very biblical text that names how and why we conquered and colonized the continent. Exodus metaphors roll easily off the tongue, but Joshua’s stick in the throat. In short, while the Exodus narrative has provided the explicit, conscious template for American identity and imperialism, “the Joshua mythologem” has provided the implicit, unconscious one that configures, unacknowledged, American perspectives and policies. In brief, “There has been a powerful repression or bracketing out of the Canaan complex in these same Christian imperial and Puritan traditions and their episteme, so that it is rarely cited by name, in explicit reference to Joshua…It is difficult to account for this silence.”(3)
The silence, I suspect, has much to do with the mirror Joshua holds up to the American church, which aided and abetted the conquest of America. The story Joshua relates is perhaps too close for Christian comfort. Better to follow the detached and assuring path of allegorical or tropological interpretation than a literal reading that confronts followers of the Prince of Peace with the question of whether they might be mimicking the book’s genodical violence. American Christians have thus been accustomed to read Joshua for its spiritual principles, while ignoring associations with what might be happening in the land.”