". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Should Christians Care about American History?

August 5, 2023

A 2019 poll found that only 27% of Americans under the age of 45 have a basic knowledge of American history. Sadly, the next generation is also struggling. According to NAEP standards in 2022, only 13% of the schoolchildren of America are proficient in the subject. This leads to the question: should Christians be concerned?

The word “history” reveals an important secret when pulled apart: “His story.” History is not about boring dates or uninteresting details but a love story between God and His creation. It’s about how God took a sin-filled world, gave it hope and salvation, and taught His people how to live and impact culture for His sake. Daniel 2:12 makes it clear that He does it all: “He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise; and knowledge to those who have understanding.” 

For those who are unsure whether Christians should spend time studying the American history, the Bible has a clear answer. Deuteronomy 32:7 says, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations.” Throughout the Bible, memorials are put up and feasts are instituted to help Israelites reflect back on good and bad times. Passover existed so that the Israelites would remember God’s angel passing over them, while Purim was a reminder that God had raised up Esther to save the Jews. Twelve stones were raised on the side of the Jordan River to remind Israelites of God’s miraculous work in parting the Jordan. Nehemiah 9 is an entire chapter dedicated to the work God has done in Israel’s history while Deuteronomy is devoted to the retelling of history and God’s laws.

In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles constantly referred back to Israel’s history and primary historical figures to debate and link the Gospel to what the Jews knew (like Hebrews Hall of Faith). Scripturally, Christians are called to know their history.

Why? It’s all about identity. Former Governor Mike Huckabee has said that loss of American history is like “a person experiencing ‘total amnesia.’” Medically, that is someone who no longer knows who she is because her memory (history) has been wiped away. This loss leads to Americans no longer understanding who they are. Yet, who they are is a beautiful thing.

According to Dr. Ben Carson, Americans are “a people who … are historically rooted in a faith in God rather than in the vicissitudes of man.” How can Christians take stands in the public square if they don’t know the truth behind “separation between church and state?” They must know that America’s government and law are rooted in God’s Word and biblical principles in order to defend the nation. Identity is the foundation of America’s success, and the loss of it will only destroy her.

American history is a case study in how God stepped in, made relationships with His own, taught them how to rely completely on Him, and transformed a tiny, divided country into a prosperous superpower. Obviously, the United States has its faults because it’s made up of humans — and humans are faulty creatures, but America has given the world hope in ways of which we can only dream. For generations, America has sent out more missionaries and offered more global financial support than any other nation. She has defended freedom for all. Her Constitution has stood the test of the time as the oldest written constitution still in use today. This is her story — but more importantly, God’s story.

When historians study the primary sources of America’s Founding Fathers, they see profound evidence that these men were Christians. More than half of the signers had some kind of formal divinity schooling, and four were ministers. One review found that one-third of citations in their writings came directly from the Bible and many more came from writers who drew wisdom from the Bible. These men and women laid the foundation for an America that has shined the light of faith and freedom to the far reaches of the earth. If Christians want to continue that kind of witness, they need to dive into the minds of those who laid this foundation and gather wisdom from those who have gone before.

So what can Christians do? Study history with a focus on what God has done. Lead others to praise Him for that and form a Biblical worldview, just as the Founders did. Pray for revival. James 5:16 tells Christians, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Get involved in politics, because evil will only succumb to the good that flows from God. And, most importantly, be the salt of the earth, because “if the salt loses its flavor, it is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13).

Elizabeth Pohl serves as an intern at Family Research Council.