The Theological Liberalism Behind the Conservative Biblical Proof Text for American Christian Revival

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IfMyPeople

2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people who are called by my name,
humble themselves,
and pray
and turn from their wicked ways

then I will hear from heaven
and will forgive their sin
and heal their land.

Russell Moore comments on the widespread misunderstanding and misuse of this verse:

The fact is 2 Chronicles 7:14 isn’t talking about America or national identity or some generic sense of “revival.” To apply the verse this way is, whatever one’s political ideology, theological liberalism.

This verse is a word written to a specific people—the people of God—who were coming home from exile. They were coming home from a time in which they were dominated and enslaved by a foreign power.

At a time when they needed to be reminded of who they were, who God was and what he had promised to do, this passage was given to them to point them back to Solomon’s reign, reminding them of what Solomon did when he built the temple, the house of the Lord, the place of the gathering of the worship of God.

After all, it seemed as though the house of David was gone. It seemed as though even after a new temple was built, it wasn’t the “real” temple, because it’s not what it was before. The questions that God’s people were asking at this point were, “Where is God? What is our future as the people of God?”

When God said to them, “If my people who are called by name,” he was specifically pointing them back to the covenant that he made with their forefather Abraham. At a specific point in their history, God had told Abraham about his descendants, saying “I will be their God” and “They will be my people.” That’s what “My people” means. God reminded a people who had been exiled, enslaved, and defeated that a rebuilt temple or a displaced nation cannot change who they were. They were God’s people, and would see the future God has for them.

If we don’t understand the question of who we are, first and foremost, as the people of God, then we are going to miss this.

If we take this text and bypass the people of God, applying it to America in general or the Bible Belt in particular, as though our citizenship as Americans or Australians or Albanians is the foundation of the “covenant” God has made with us, the problem is not just that we are misinterpreting the text; the problem is that we are missing Christ.

You can read the whole thing here.

For a discussion on how to interpret 1-2 Chronicles responsibly, listen to this conversation between Nancy Guthrie and Mike Bullmore. (They briefly cover 2 Chronicles 7:14 briefly around the 44:00 mark.)

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