I write what I'm about to say with a great deal of sensitivity to the fact that many people may disagree with my conclusions. I recognize that and respect those who do disagree. Some of those will be members of my own family. This was true in the post before as well. I believe friends and even family members may disagree respectfully and lovingly and that is certainly the desire of my heart on this issue.
Patriotism is by it's very nature a bit emotional and I wish to "tread lightly" here because of that fact. I hope what I say will be heard as personal, respectful, and open to opinions that differ with mine. I'm no scholar, theologian, or even an historian for that matter. I'm just a guy with a blog who has studied to some degree the bible, history, and people with much to learn about all three. That all said, I think I'll just dive in.
There is a widely held view of America today that says she was founded as a "Christian nation." This is generally said because of the belief that our nation was founded on biblical principles originally and most of the Founders had a faith in God at the time. And, as a result of our beginning, America holds a special place in the heart of God. His blessings have been upon us in the past in a greater way than perhaps any other nation with the possible exception of Israel.
In the mind of those who hold this view, America has indeed lost her way and needs to return to the God upon on whom she was founded. His blessings will not continue to be upon her if she doesn't. Returning to God would cause America to thrive, but a failure to do so would be her downfall.
Now here is the hard part. I have to say, from the outset, that I disagree with this view completely. Remember, I’ve already talked of my genuine love for America as a citizen in the previous post. What I will say today will only enhance that I hope and will show that my love for her cannot be legitimately questioned.
I DO believe our beginnings were founded upon a belief in God and our Founders sought to fulfill the views of Sir William Blackstone (The Eminent English Jurist) who said. "Man must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature. This law of nature is of course superior to any other. No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this: and such of them as are valid derive all their force from this original." But is this the Christian faith? That is the question to be answered.
Our Founding Fathers sought to establish a system of government and a society that reflected the reality of that "law of nature" [Natural Law] spoken of by Wm. Blackstone. Our Constitution undergirds the idea that those rights natural to all men are not "granted" by a government or society but they established our government of laws (not a government of men) in order to "secure" each person's Creator-endowed rights to life, liberty, and property in this country. I, for one, most certainly have a desire for our country to continue to be a free society that respects the dignity and the rights of all citizens in that free society.
I'm further grateful that America was founded BY the people and FOR the people with the people always in mind and said so in those fabulously special words that take their form in the Preamble to the Constitution..."We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
This somewhat simple yet profound introduction to the Constitution of this country says it all. The Constitution then explains how the Preamble will be accomplished with the division of government and the guidelines for our society. This nation IS nothing short of special. But she is not a "Christian" nation and certainly is not SPECIAL to God because of that.
If one's definition of "Christian nation" is simply that our Founders recognized the bible as a source book for the existence of the Creator who established natural law..then one could say America is a Christian nation. But that neither correctly defines Christianity nor clearly states the intent of out founders. America is not special to God BECAUSE she is "Christian" by a truly biblical definition of "Christian."
It is true that there once WAS a special nation to God. Once, Israel enjoyed God's special favor over all other nations. This was NOT because she was more righteous than the other nations, but so she could provide a lineage that would ultimately produce the Messiah Himself. When Jesus Christ appeared, Israel, having fulfilled that purpose, was then replaced with another very special nation.
That new very “SPECIAL” nation in the present day is not ANY nation that has geographical boundaries, including America. It is, as Jon Zens says, “The aggregate of believers who have been called out by the gospel FROM ALL NATIONS and are now identified as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, A HOLY NATION, [My emphasis] a people for God's own possession. (1 Peter 2:9)
In this NEW and FAVORED nation that exists today there are no differences among her citizens along national, racial, gender or social lines. The scripture says it this way speaking of her citizens... "They are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female...” Her citizens are not divided along political parties either. Her citizens can found in EVERY nation on earth and are united as brothers and sisters together because of their relationship to Jesus Christ. “All are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).” You may biblically call her the "Church," the "Bride of Christ," The Body of Christ" and even a "Holy Nation" as does the Apostle Peter. But she is the ONLY Christian NATION that has existed over the past Two thousand years.
A fact that is difficult to understand sometimes is that, according to the scriptures, ALL of God’s "special" blessings are reserved only for those who are part of this new "Holy Nation.” This is because they have been "accepted in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1:6) That verse reveals that God only "accepts" people who are said to be "In Christ."
It is true that His grace is given to some degree to all people of the earth in what was called by the Puritans "Common Grace." This "common grace" is indeed extended to all peoples of all nations in many incredible ways by a gracious God. This has been especially true, it would seem to me, of America. But His SPECIAL favor and blessings are reserved for those who have accepted Jesus Christ because of what He did on the Cross of Calvary.
It is THIS that brings about a true relationship with God. That relationship is neither based on things that are on earth nor things done politically or socially on the earth. That is simply not the basis for knowing and relating to God. Paul said it this way, "We have been blessed with All spiritual blessings in heavenly realities in Christ Jesus." [Eph.1:3] It takes something that is real BEYOND this world and it's political systems whatever those may be for God to be involved in relating to fallen human beings. This story of the need all men and the nature of Christ and His work at Calvary is what the gospel is all about.
I say again, it IS historically accurate to say that in one sense America was founded on what could be called a Theistic world-view [Natural Law] and that Christianity was, in fact, the major religious influence in that world-view at that time. Pointing this fact out is not a bad thing and is historically correct. But to call it "Christian" does a disservice to both Christianity and some of our Founding Fathers.
Some would argue using valid historical moments such as the United States Supreme Court when in 1892 that court made an exhaustive study of the supposed connection between Christianity and the government of the United States. After researching hundreds volumes of historical documents, the Court concluded...”These references [The studied historical documents] add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of other utterances that this nation [America] is a religious people...a Christian nation.”
Then there was the time when our Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland reversed an 1892 decision in relation to another case and, as he did, he is quoted to have said, "Americans are “a Christian people.” Even Justice William O. Douglas came close to saying that with a similar idea when in 1952 he said... “We [Americans] are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”
But I would remind us all that what was quoted from history in the last two paragraphs is speaking to a RELIGIOUS DISPOSITION and is not a reflection of biblical Christianity at all. Biblical Christianity is based upon a personal faith in the person and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even many of our Founding fathers were far from that biblical reality personally. But they assisted in the founding of our great country too.
So...in light of all this, There are four things I wish to say to summarize what this means for believers who are also earthly citizens. but it will be done in the next post. These four things will bottom line how I view the way we as believers are to be different BECAUSE we are citizens of this new and "Holy Nation" [The Church] while at the same time citizens of America.
I would be saying the same thing were I to be writing for an audience of Christians located in Germany, Iran, China or any other nation on earth. Biblically, it is described as being Salt and light to whatever society or culture or nation in which we find ourselves as believers. We shall see this next time.