“Beware, O sinful land, beware;
And do not think it strange
That sorer judgements are at hand,
Unless thou quickly change.
Or God, or thou, must quickly change;
Or else thou art undon:
Wrath cannot cease, if sin remain,
Where judgement is begun.”
-Michael Wigglesworth, “God’s Controversy With New England” (Written in the Time of the Great Drought, Anno. 1662)
“Christian faith is in steep decline and a softer form of totalitarianism is on the march. I firmly believe that we American Christians, and in truth Americans of any traditional faith and convictions, that we’re now living in exile. We know from the Hebrew Bible how God deals with His people when they have become unfaithful to Him. He judges them.”
-Rod Dreher, September 13th, 2022
In the United States today, public pronouncements from prominent Orthodox Christians often take the form of jeremiads, grave sermons decrying general social and moral transgressions for which humanity faces imminent persecution from an angry and vengeful God. Jeremiads follow a typical structure: a reference to a doctrinal baseline, ordinarily culled from the Old Testament; an outlining of the covenant between God and His people; and then an explanation of the contemporary significance of that covenant, first through a grave and graphic exposition on how God’s people had so catastrophically failed, and then in an explication of how they may reverse their perilous fate.
From the settler colonialist preachers of seventeenth-century New England to the circuit-riding revivalists of the nineteenth-century to the televangelists and YouTube preachers of the present day, jeremiads have warned that without atonement and correction, God’s people in America were doomed. Many such jeremiads are premised on the notion that the United States is a Christian nation, exceptional and ordained above all to serve God’s plan for humanity, and burdened with that should it fail to retain its covenant with the divine, the nation would fail and its people suffer. A renewed upsurge of Christian Nationalism has caused such rhetoric to swell in recent years, and as we have seen, such ideas too ripple through Orthodox Christian institutions and communities.Continue reading