What Has Jerusalem to Do with America?
Tertullian, a second-century leader of the Christian church, is well known for a statement he made concerning the importance of Jerusalem as contrasted with the secular city of Athens. He wrote, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"
He continued, "After we become Christians, we have no need of Greek philosophy." Jerusalem and Athens were to have nothing to do with one another.
Those who have thought of faith and the "world" as entirely two separate domains sometimes do not realize that their arguments against the entanglement of religion and the world have been appropriated gladly by those who believe in radical separation of church and state, arguing that the world of faith is irrational and that the actual workings of the world should be left to secularists.
In other words, for many, Jerusalem has nothing to do with Athens – or America and the West.
Tertullian's draconian vision has largely been adopted by the left, which has a substitute, secular vision for the world. The substitute vision is presently called globalism.
The division of the world into the spiritual and secular has also basically been absorbed by many conservative Christian denominations, who also see the structure of America as divided into two stories of faith and the "world," particularly the world of politics, national and global. Never shall the two mix.
Thus, for both the left and for some on the right, Jerusalem the Holy City as she presently exists is too often an irrelevant abstraction. For the left, Jerusalem gets in the way of a new world order. For the right, Jerusalem is important only as the eternal Holy City called Heaven. The real, concrete Jerusalem is merely a city like any other city.
The view of Jerusalem as entirely separated from the ordinary workings of the world was not always the prevailing outlook in the United States. Travels throughout the United States reveal eleven towns named Jerusalem. In fact, the American landscape, particularly in the East and South, is filled with biblical names given to towns and landmarks.
All of them reflect in some way the biblical vision of Jerusalem as the place that was especially indwelt by the presence of God, the giver of the Ten Commandments and the Author of mankind's salvation.
Jerusalem is the holy city whose spiritual foundations John Winthrop, the future governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, hoped to put into place in the New World, saying of his brave venture, "We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us."
Sadly, his vision for a New Jerusalem was realized imperfectly, as Puritanism sometimes exhibited the same persecutory tendencies toward other denominations as were directed toward the Puritans themselves in England.
However, the spiritual ideals as reflected in the law given at Sinai and the idea that every person is made in the image of God and therefore equal under the law had a powerful impact on the founding fathers of our nation. Those ideals continue to be building blocks holding up the structure we call America.
The alternate vision known as globalism is adamantly opposed to the foundations built on Jerusalem, the Holy City. Globalism has a vested interest in destroying Jerusalem the Heavenly City by destroying Jerusalem the earthly representation of that city. For the secular left, there is no eternal city. There is only the temporal city.
The above is why globalist thinkers and leaders like French president Emmanuel Macron have gone ballistic over President Trump's announcement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The fact is that globalism has a deep interest in supplanting Judaism and Christianity, both of which share the eternal spiritual vision of Jerusalem as the holy city whose foundational principles are critical to any society choosing justice and righteousness above power and might.
The globalist vision is against any particular identification by nation or religion. To acknowledge Jerusalem is to acknowledge the concretization of history of Jews in the Middle East. It is to affirm that the Jews are real people within a real nation. It is to acknowledge Jerusalem is a Jewish (and Christian) capital, both in reality and in spiritual significance. It is to acknowledge the concrete identity of the Jewish state of Israel. It is to ratify the cornerstone beliefs of Western civilization while the real desire is to allow two competitors for a new world vision to advance their dreams of empire. The one is the secularist vision of the E.U. and the United Nations; the other is the vision of a global caliphate.
A recent Reuters News headline says it all: "Arabs, Europe and the UN Reject Trump's Recognition of Jerusalem."
The reaction of the Arabs, Europe, and the United Nations also says a great deal. Palestinians switched off the Christmas light in Bethlehem, while a tree decorated with lights just outside the Church of the Nativity also went dark. Calls for protests arose even as the lights went out in the city in Judea that saw the birth of Christ, who proclaimed Himself the light of the world.
Are we to suppose that Hamas and other terrorist groups are satisfied with the extinguishing of a few lights in Bethlehem when their expressly stated purpose – over and over and over again--is to extinguish Israel and her capital city? Are we to suppose that extremists who wish to eradicate Israel and the Jews from the earth will spare Jewish and Christian sacred sites in Jerusalem? Would Jerusalem be spared the fate of Palmyra by people who wish her total destruction?
What is behind the rage? What is truly at stake? Why is there such outrage concerning the announcement that Jerusalem the Golden is the capital, physical and spiritual, of the nation of Israel?
What is at the heart of the debate over Jerusalem is the spiritual foundations of Western civilization. What is being sought is the extermination of the Judeo-Christian consensus that has animated the West and now increasingly much of the globe, ever more gradually over the last five thousand years. What is being hoped for is the actualization of an alternate vision, be it secular or Islamist, by assimilating or destroying Jerusalem. Opposing visions cannot tolerate the vision of the Holy City.
But the truth is that Jerusalem is like no other city.
She is not like El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold that men vainly sought for attaining wealth and fame. Nor is she the city where the Fountain of Youth was sought that men might live forever. Nor is she like fabled Troy, city of Priam's treasure and the beauteous Helen, both exquisite but mortal. Nor is she the mythical city of Atlantis, powerful and beautiful but sunk forever into the dark seas.
All of those cities have perished, only to become myths, the legends of which continue to fade.
Jerusalem is the Eternal City allied with eternal truth. No one can take her identity from her, even though once again, as it has for thousands of years, a great Beast slouches toward Bethlehem.
She remains a light to the world – a beacon for the past, for the present and for the future.
Jerusalem is the Shining City on the Hill.
Fay Voshell hold a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her a prize for excellence in systematic theology. She is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Her thoughts have also been published in many other online magazines. She may be reached at email@example.com.