When Mitt Romney ended the foreign policy debate with the statement “this nation is the hope of the earth” he stated both an obvious geo-political truth while simultaneously uttering a theological error and causing consternation for everyone who realizes the fundamental truth that God is the true hope of all the earth.

Although Mitt Romney is a devout Mormon, a religious denomination considered a cult by mainstream Protestant and Catholic Christians, there is no doubt he understands that basic theological truth and believes in a God who is the spiritual hope of the world. What then, did he mean by this statement?

I think in order for us to fully understand the comment and for those who believe in God to fully embrace the statement, we need to first understand the context of the statements and then to understand what is truly meant by American Exceptionalism.

The context that Mr. Romney is speaking in is that of geo-political nation states. It is not intended to be a spiritual or theological viewpoint per se’. Using that phrasing in any kind of spiritual or eschatological sense would be a foolish as the psalmist David wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1 & Psalm 53:1.

Our country was founded upon the recognition that there is a God and He is interested in the nations. His blessing and intervention was often requested as we were forming the nation. We are a nation that recognizes our dependence upon God in our founding documents. We have not seen ourselves as a nation that is superior to God. In my opinion the comment can only be seen as a temporal political statement having to do with international relations. There is no heresy and we are not being disloyal to God if we agree with the statement.

Neither is it arrogance to make this or similar statements. It speaks of a confidence and assurance that American values are the best values for governance the best values for individuals, for communities and for nations. In addition it is a recognition that a strong America is the best hope that much of the earth has for lifting people out of poverty and for allowing people to fulfill their dreams.

Dennis Prager talks about this in his new book “Still The Best Hope: Why The World Needs American Values to Triumph”. He argues that there are basically three competing ideologies in the world today, all seeking to spread influence. The first is Leftism, which is seen in the western European Welfare model, which generally rejects God and believes that the state is the provider of benefits and rights to its citizens. This ideology exists in a continuum of minimal state control (the modern Democrat Party in the US) to significant state control (Marxist Russia or Castro’s Cuba), but in each case the state is seen as a provider.

The second primary ideology is radical Islam or as Prager says Islamism which refers to those in the Muslim world who would like to see Sharia law used to govern as much of the world as possible.

The last value system is Americanism which he defines as three basic values of “Liberty”, “Trust In God” and “E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One”. Americanism, in contrast to the other ideologies, believes in human liberty and that rights come from God and that each person is given these rights from God and they cannot be taken away by any human institution. We do not see ourselves as subservient or dependent upon governments. We trust in God not government as our source. Government serves us not the other way around.  Americanism is also an idea, so that many diverse peoples can come together to make one unified group. (strikingly similar to Paul’s view of the church: Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female…..)

The ascendancy of either of the other ideologies spells disaster to the life and liberty of every person.  It is only the ascendancy of American values that gives any real hope for freedom and for elevation from poverty, for peace and tranquility.

America is exceptional in this regard and in many others. The idea of American exceptionalism is that we are the exception to the rule of how other nations are formed, how they operate and how they view the role of government.

In our formation: We were created for specific purpose. At the time of our founding, there was no nation that was ruled by the people, they were all ruled by a ruling class. The ruling class in America is “We The People”. We understood that human beings received rights from God and not the countries rulers and therefore the only legitimate purpose of government was to protect those rights. This is the exception to the rule of nations.

In our Operation: We are a nation that allows people freedom to speak freely, to worship God freely all without interference from government.  We are a nation that expects people to protect themselves and thus the right to keep and bear arms. We are a nation where people can pursue their dreams and see them come true. This is in stark contrast to class societies, where you can never rise above your rank regardless of your ability. In America you achieve based on your merits, not your family or class. This is the exception to the rule of nations.

In our view of Government: We see our leaders as governing, not ruling. Those who govern in our country, serve the people, not the other way around. We are a nation whose governing authorities are seen as public servants. As Clint Eastwood said, “You work for us”. This is the exception to the rule of nations.

None of this is grounds for arrogance or pride as it is really a blessing from God. We should recognize this blessing and not try to hide it under a bushel. America or more specifically, American Values are the last best hope of earth, geo-politically speaking or course.