American History According to the British – England Didn’t Lose the Revolutionary War

My history professors at the University of California said the American character was shaped in large part by westward expansion into the frontier.

My history professors at the University of Sussex, England, said the American character developed from an incessant entrepreneurialism that began with the first settlements and continued to the present.

I got the impression the truth included both their positions.

The Surrender at Yorktown (Wikimedia)

The Surrender at Yorktown

One of the things about American history that I thought was not subject to debate concerns who won and who lost the Revolutionary War. The basic facts are that fighting broke out in 1775 and General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington in 1781, with the formal peace treaty coming in 1783.

That sounds like a win for the new United States of America.

Not according to The English Club.

I ran across their website through a link to their article on the History of the English Language. I recommend it for a good overview of the development of English from its arrival with the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the 5th century through Norman French influences and changes to the language as it spread around the world.

It’s a short article and very readable. It even comes with a handy chart with dates and developments. That’s where I discovered that America apparently did not beat the British in the War for Independence:

1776 Thomas Jefferson writes the American Declaration of Independence
1782 Britain abandons its colonies in what is later to become the USA

“Britain abandons its colonies” – I’ve never heard it put that way. I suppose losing battles and spending way too much money to carry out a war halfway around the globe might be considered abandonment. Perhaps it depends on who you ask.

False Prophets

Sometimes people just see things differently. That’s understandable; we all have our own experiences and can’t know everything that might influence another person’s way of looking at life.

Other times people make it up as they go along, much like when the kings of Israel and Judah were considering whether to wage war on the Arameans:

Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”

All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”

But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.” (1 Kings 22:10-14.)

Micaiah's Prophecy, by Johann Christoph Weigel, 1695 (Wikipedia)

Micaiah’s Prophecy, by Johann Christoph Weigel, 1695

As you might have expected, Micaiah’s prophecy did not agree with Zedekiah’s. He told the kings they would lose horribly, and they did. (1 Kings 22:15-38.)

False prophets do not escape God’s attention either. Here’s a conversation God had with Jeremiah concerning false prophets a couple centuries later:

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, Rembrandt, 1630 (Wikipedia)

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, Rembrandt, 1630

But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”

Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:13-14.)

Everything’s going great, the false prophets told the Israelites. These prophets made the claim of absolute truth: I speak because God has spoken to me!

Taking it with a grain of salt

I try not to get worked up over people who falsely claim to be speaking for God, not because I don’t think its important but because the Bible says we shouldn’t get wigged out about it.

If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. (Deuteronomy 18:22.)

Do not be alarmed.

That’s not the same as saying “Don’t do anything about it.” It’s just that we shouldn’t let ourselves get so worked up over someone saying something false about God that we can’t deal with it constructively. Ultimately, God says he’s the one who takes care of false prophets anyway:

I am the Lord, … who foils the signs of false prophets. (Isaiah 44:24-25.)

I’m not alarmed. God’s got it covered.


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19 Responses to American History According to the British – England Didn’t Lose the Revolutionary War

  1. Adriana says:

    “Britain abandons its colonies . . .”
    Sounds like a “conscious uncoupling.”

  2. My ancestors are from Sussex. I lived there for many years 🙂

    This reminds me of the account of Hezekiah in the bible when he fought ‘an Assyrian king’. There is a parallel account on a clay hexagon that tells the story from the view of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, which is in the British Museum. Of course, both accounts differ, but what is fascinating is how people record things as ‘truth’ from their point of view. It would be wise to bear that in mind in relation to, well, pretty much everything in life.

    I blogged about a trip to see the hexagon when I first began multicolouredsmartypants, almost exactly 2 years ago. Here’s the link, if you’re interested:

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for that link. I left a comment there. Do you think the portion concerning the 18th century foundling home might be able to be worked in to a separate post, and perhaps it can run here as a guest piece?

      • Thank you. I’d be glad to do that 🙂 Not much blogging to be had until after I’ve finished my assignment (due next week). Did you have any particular direction in mind – the post wandered over several ideas?

  3. Jeannie says:

    It’s pretty humbling to be going around telling everyone what God has said, only to be brought up short by God saying “I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them.” I guess we should all be very careful when hearing OR saying something that is supposedly straight from God.

    • Tim says:

      Whenever I hear someone claim to have “a prophetic word from the Lord” to share with their listeners, I wonder if they’ve read these biblical warnings.

  4. Pastor Bob says:

    I really like the way you led into this. Sooner or later I will get it that you lead with something almost off the wall) and tie it back to a very practical message – and so succinctly. I am sure law school does not prepare you for this style of writing, you have excelled in this. Thanks!!

    • Tim says:

      You’ve discovered my secret, Bob!

      It actually goes back to something I learned almost 30 years ago about teaching and preaching: hook, look book, took. Lead with something that hooks the attention, take a closer look at what’s going on. See what the Bible has to say about all of this, and provide a take-away (application) from the passage.

      It’s not the only way to teach, and I use other methods myself, but it’s one way that seems to work well for blog posts.

  5. Laura Droege says:

    Our family just read that passage about the kings of Israel and Judah contemplating war with the Arameans last night. One part that I find amusing is when M. gives that first reply to Ahab; I can almost hear the sarcasm in the prophet’s voice (“Sure, you’ll be victorious!”) before he gives the real prophecy (“You’re going to lose, Ahab! In fact, you’re going to die.”) Actually, what I’m hearing is the sarcastic edge that my high school OT teacher gave the verse when he read it to the class.

    Anyway. Excellent point about not getting in a tizzy over false prophets. We know God will deal with them, so our job isn’t to play God and try to smite them. (As if we could!) Our job is to point out the false prophecies, but with a calm and level-headed spirit that relies on God, doesn’t try to appropriate God’s authority or power, and ultimately points to God. That way, He gets the glory and we don’t give undue attention to false teachers.

    • Tim says:

      I like your take on how to deal with the false prophets, Laura. Although I must say that Micaiah’s sarcasm has a certain attraction for me as well!

  6. Ruth says:

    If your family came to Australia with the First Fleet you are ok, but not particularly special..BUT….if your relatives, no matter how many times removed, arrived as a convict, anytime at all, you have an ancestry to boast about in no uncertain terms, with great pride and sense of superiority!
    Having a relative who became wealthy from the Gold Rush, almost as good, or anyone who came in the1800s, not bad. I luck in the two aforementioned, skite and brag.
    Upside down and down under, history in a tumble to say the least. 🙂

  7. Tuija says:

    The first part of your post reminds me of a book I just recently (re-)read: Josephine Tey’s A Daughter of Time. One of the big themes is being aware of how the writer’s or storyteller’s bias affects the way they tell a story. It’s a timely reminder these days, when anyone with or without an agenda can write their own version of history and distrubute it via internet…

    The other part got me thinking. The job of a (true) prophet in the Bible was not a ‘good career move’ for most of them. In fact, most prophets apparently got a pretty rough deal – Micaiah was imprisoned, wasn’t he? I wonder why someone would want to be a prophet – unless they had a calling from God that they could not ignore. The false prophets in the passage you quoted were speaking what the king wanted to hear, so apparently they were actually just hoping to get the king’s approval (and payment?).

    From what I have experienced, I think people who truly have a message from God are often people who have gone through a wringer of tough experiences that make them acutely aware of their dependence on God. So they’re humble, and not speaking to get personal gain, people’s approval, or recognition for themselves. And thus they are also not offended if you take their words with a grain of salt, i.e. examine what they say in light of the Bible. They know it’s up to the Holy Spirit to convince people. It’s more often the false prophets – those who speak for their own gain – who are offended if you dare to question them.

    • Tim says:

      I love Josephine Tey, Tuija. Daughter of Time was the first novel of hers I ever read.

      Your distinction about how false prophets react to criticism and how those who speak in the Spirit look at scrutiny is a good one. I think you’re right that those who are of God are a lot less likely to get riled by such scrutiny.

  8. Hester says:

    I hear they don’t think Benedict Arnold was Satan incarnate, either. 😉

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