In Search of the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth is written by Richard M. Gamble, Hillsdale College professor and Ruling Elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In the coming weeks we’ll look at some excerpts.
In his Introduction, Gamble writes:
At some point in history – we will never know when – someone first applied the city metaphor to something other than Jesus’ disciples, to something or someone outside the boundaries of the Christian Church. That may not have happened for many centuries. It may not have happened first or only in America. But along the way it became commonplace to talk about America as the embodiment of Jesus’ hilltop city.
…we will see in the following pages that at one time Americans chiefly used the “city on a hill” to describe something transcendent and theological, and then at a later time chiefly to describe something earthly and political. The transition required nothing less than the unmaking of a biblical metaphor and the making of a national myth.
…Ideas are acted upon, used, and changed.. . . “while Dostoevsky describes what ideas do to men, Flaubert describes what men do with ideas: and perhaps the latter may be more significant – certainly for the historian.” That premise lies at the heart of this book.
…As a Christian, I believe that for the health of the Church it is necessary to unmake a national myth in order to reclaim it as a biblical metaphor.