The 1619 Project and the Propitiation of America’s Original Sin

By Erick Erickson |  The Resurgent

In 2013, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Mainline and increasingly heretical version of the Presbyterian branch of Christendom in the United States, cast out the popular Christian hymn “In Christ Alone” from its hymnal revision.

The reason was that hymn authors Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend refused to change a line of the hymn. The PCUSA wanted the line “on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied” changed to “the love of God was magnified.”

The PCUSA has increasingly embraced the idea that God is fully love, “love is love,” and the concept of His wrath needs to be downplayed. This drags into long term theological problems that often wind up dragging proponents of this theological revision right out of Christendom. If the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same unchanging God, why must so much blood be spilled in the Old Testament if God is all “love is love?” Trying to resolve it all with God’s love being magnified makes no sense.

The correct theological answer is that God loves us, but cannot tolerate sin. Sin must be punished for us to be able to have a relationship with the Creator and the punishment of sin is death — our own or someone or something else’s. Throughout Biblical history, blood must be shed to make us right with God. On the Day of Atonement, blood is shed. On the cross, blood was shed. 1 John 2:2 states that “Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Paul in Romans 3:21-25 states, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

John Murray noted “The doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of this wrath.” (John Murray, “The Atonement”)

Through Christ shedding blood, God can overlook our sins because they were placed on Christ.

This is a concept Abraham Lincoln knew well and it is one he applied to the Civil War. In his second inaugural, Lincoln said,

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

It gets to the idea of the blood being shed on the battlefield being an atoning sacrifice for the nation’s original sin. The Union soldiers were the propitiation for our national sin. The Battle Hymn of the Republic quite exquisitely wraps around the whole idea of the War being about atonement, propitiation, and making right with God.

620,000 Americans lost their lives in the Civil War. On the Union side, 596,670 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or went missing in action. 490,309 Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or went missing in action.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

The United States very literally paid an atoning sacrifice for the sin of slavery. Union preachers of the day and the President of the United States came to see the war in that light. Prior to the Civil War, more and more prominent Americans began discussing it in that light. The war was divine wrath poured out on the nation for enslaving a population.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

While the New York Times may get there, its revisionist, reframing exercise right now totally misses all of that. In fact, the progressive rhetoric of the day and calls for reparations from Democrat politicians are poured out into a void of willful ignorance as they ignore the body count of mostly white Union soldiers who died that slavery might end.

They paid reparations with their lives, The nation lost 2% of its male population.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.

The New York Times and progressives have no concept of grace. Secular progressivism has, in fact, become a religion of its own. It has its own sacraments in the form of abortion and activism. It has its own tenets accepted not by fact or science, but by faith, including that boys can become girls. It has its own ecclesiology in how it conducts protest and activism. It has its own priests in the form of Planned Parenthood and other celebrities. It has its own eschatology in how the world will end — always badly in climate change. It has its own plan of salvation in that the saved cannot be saved unless those who dissent from the religion are silenced as deniers, haters, bigots, or the like. Unlike Christianity wherein the destruction of the wicked happens, but is not necessary for the salvation of any one person, the wicked must always perish for the righteous to be saved in progressivism. This is why leftwing totalitarian regimes always end in mass murder, by the way.

What progressivism lacks are two things. It lacks a sense of history. To have one would be to root progressivism, but an ideology always on the move, even against itself, cannot be rooted. It also, like all religions outside Christianity, lacks a concept of grace.

Secular progressives show no grace and very little mercy to those inside and outside their religion. One must always convert to new levels of wokeness or be exposed as a heretic.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

Into this, the 1619 Project of the New York Times is an exercise in religious indoctrination. It is a systematic theology for wokeness. It is also a confession of faith by which heretics can be determined, outed, and marginalized.

Should one take any issue with the claims made, no matter how fictitious or devoid of historic accuracy, that person can be labeled a white supremacist, or an other destined to be cast out of the conversation. Should one agree with the revisionist reframing, but disagree on the solutions, that person too can be cast out for not doing their fair share to make a heaven on earth.

To accomplish all of this, what the left and the Times must do is ignore, downplay, or rewrite the history of 1861 to 1865. They must minimize, downplay, or ignore the deaths of 620,000 men, the majority of whom died, as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” declares, “to make men free.”

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

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